Daily Bow: Strings Worldwide!


Coming out of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, this week features the start of two major international events in the world of classical string music. The first is the International Cello Festival of Canada.

The Winnipeg Cultural Capital of Canada 2010 and the Agassiz team will present the  2011 Canadian festival, which starts tomorrow June 15 and runs through June 19. It looks to be quite an extraordinary event.

More information on the cello festival

Cello festival schedule

The other, which has already begun, is the world-renowned International Tchaikovsky Competition.

Many have heard the name of the Moscow-based competition if nothing else from the first legendary competition of 1958. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union held the first International Tchaikovsky Competition as a way to showcase Russian superiority in a superpower competition that went beyond the traditional battlefield.

The International Tchaikovsky Competition, first held more than 50 years ago, is not only a valuable asset of Russian musical culture but is also one of the major events in the international music community…

Van Cliburn at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition

Ironically, it was that first competition in which pianist Van Cliburn, an American, won the event.* This year we are witness to the 14th episode of an event which has seen some of the greatest geopolitical shifts in history… and endured. The competition is open to violinists, cellists, pianists, and vocalists.

We’re excited to see what happens this year! This is the first year in which the competition will extend to St. Petersburg (traditionally it was restricted to Moscow).  It runs from June 14-July 2. Cellists and pianists compete June 15-30 in Moscow, with a final gala concert on July 1. Vocalists and violinists will be in St. Petersburg through the 30th and will have their closing concert July 2.

The International Tchaikovsky Competition consists of three rounds. First is a recital. Second is a two-phase round featuring a commissioned and chamber work. Round III  will include accompaniment by a full symphony orchestra.

With the technological edge on their side, the competition will also be the “most comprehensive cultural webcast the world has ever seen.” Moscow and St. Petersburg will simultaneously broadcast live streams for the four discipline categories: violin, cello, piano, and cello. It will be a truly global event.

The webcast production is being led by Molly McBride, who also produced the webcast for the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, which boasted over 20 million views. States McBride, “We expect viewership for the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition to be substantially more than any previous cultural webcast, due to factors such as an increase in the number of languages in which we broadcast and the technology we use to stream, which is so much more advanced than that available to us even a year ago. For instance the entire competition and documentary features will stream in High Definition.”

The International Tchaikovsky Competition draws musicians from nearly 30 countries this year. The total prize pot is about €350,000.

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13th International Tchaikovsky Competition First Prize Winner Mayuko Kamio performing the first movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto


*Members of the Van Cliburn Foundation would go on to become intimately involved with planning and running the competition. This year former president Richard Rodzinski is the Chair of the Working Committee.


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