New Zealand-born violinist Benjamin Baker (pictured) and American double bassist Xavier Foley have been named first prize winners at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. Baker, aged 26, and Foley, aged 22, are honoured alongside 15-year-old American pianist Nathan Lee and 21-year-old American flautist Anthony Trionfo.
The four artists were selected from a pool of nearly 200 applicants from 20 countries. Each musician receives three major debuts in New York and Washington D.C. next season, and will join the roster of Young Concert Artists Inc., which provides at least three years of management, concert engagements and promotion.
The members of the jury for the final auditions were violinists Daniel Philips and Pamela Frank, flautist Marya Martin, cellist Carter Brey, harpist Barbara Allen, conductor James Sinclair, pianists Gary Graffman, Ilana Vered and Jerome Lowenthal, and chair Susan Wadsworth.
The Young Concert Artists International Auditions have launched the careers of a number of leading musicians, including violinists Ani Kavafian, Ida Kavafian, Chee-Yun and Pinchas Zukerman. The awards are billed as ‘not a competition: there are no rankings, and any number of winners on a wide range of instruments and voice can be selected, competing against a standard of excellence, not each other.’
Benjamin Baker studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and at the Royal College of Music in London. In 2013 he won first prize at the Windsor Festival International String Competition and in 2015 made his first CD for Champs Hill Records.
Xavier Foley won first prize at the Sphinx Competition in 2014, and first prize in the Senior Division of the International Society Bassist Competition in 2011.
Photo: Kaupo Kikkas, Beata Ciesielska