Menuhin Competition winners named

María Dueñas, an 18-year-old Spaniard who studies with Boris Kuschnir at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna, has been named senior first prize-winner of the 2021 Yehudi Menuhin Competition for young violinists, staged this year in Richmond.

Keila Wakao, a 15-year-old resident of Chestnut Hill, MA, who studies with Donald Weilerstein and Soovin Kim at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, was named junior first prize-winner of the competition.

Dueñas wins $20,000 plus a two-year loan of a Stradivarius violin from the collection of Jonathan Moulds and a bow made by Christophe Landon. Wakao wins $10,000 and a two-year loan of an antique Italian instrument, sponsored by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins London & New York. Wakao also won the Junior Composer Award, sponsored by the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation.

The two prize-winners will perform with the Richmond Symphony in the competition’s Gala Presentation at 5 p.m. (EDT) May 23, viewable online via The concert also will feature Angelo Xiang Yu, a winner in the 2010 Menuhin Competition, playing “Bound Away,” a work by Richmond-bred composer Mason Bates written for contestants to play in this year’s competition.

The Menuhin, which since its founding in 1983 has become the leading international competition for young violinists (22 and younger), was to have been staged in Richmond in 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continued safety concerns and travel restrictions led to the rescheduled competition being run primarily online.

Most competition rounds and concerts can be seen and heard on the competition’s YouTube channel:

Other senior prize-winners:

– Second prize: Simon Zhu, a 20-year-old German studying at the Julius-Stern-Institut – Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) in Berlin.

– Third prize: Hana Chang, 18, a student at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

– Fourth prize: Karisa Chiu, 21, a Curtis student from Illinois.

Joint Composer Award: Chiu and Emily Shehi, 22, a Curtis student and Philadelphia resident.

Other junior prize-winners:

Second prize: Edward Walton, 15, a student at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne.

Third prize: Hannah Wan Ching Tam, 15, from Hong Kong, a student of Ida Kavafian at Curtis.

– Fourth prize: Kento Hong, 14, a student of Ann Setzer in the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

– Fifth prize: Boha Moon, 15, an alumna of the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts who now studies with Josef Špaček in Prague.

Jurors of this year’s Menuhin Competition were Pamela Frank, chair; Joji Hattori, vice chair; and Noah Bendix-Balgley, Aaron Dworkin, Alf Richard Kraggerud, Piers Lane, Soyoung Yoon, Angelo Xiang Yu and Richmond Symphony Music Director Valentina Peleggi.

Local sponsors of the Menuhin include the Richmond Symphony, the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, the City of Richmond and VPM (Virginia Public Media).

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