How to win without winning - Competitions: The competitive advantage

1986 Silver Medalist Leonidas Kavakos at Awards Ceremony - (c) International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Charlotte Gardner asks industry leaders for their top competition advice

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Leonidas Kavakos won the 1985 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition and came second at the 1986 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. The Ébène Quartet triumphed at the 2004 ARD International Music Competition. Ray Chen and María Dueñas won the 2008 and 2021 Menuhin Competition respectively, and Johan Dalene the 2019 Carl Nielsen International Competition. With the careers of so many of today’s biggest names, both established and rising, launched courtesy of a competition, any musician entering one would surely dream of the same thing happening to them. Yet on sounding out wider industry figures with an interest in identifying emerging talent, one hears a consistent message that you don’t need to win a competition for it to move your career forward, and that while many young artists do understand that, fewer seem aware of all the things a competition can do for their careers, whether they make it to the final rounds or not. So how can you win, even if you don’t actually win a prize? Who better to ask for advice than the agents and jury members themselves – figures that any ambitious young artist is looking to impress?…

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