Nine semifinalists will compete for the grand prize this June


Prize winners of the 2018 competition: Alex Zhou, Julian Rhee and Isabelle Ai Durrenberger

The Irving M. Klein International String Competition, held in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from June 1-2, has announced this year’s 9 semifinalists, whittled down from 118 entrants: 

  • James Baik, cello, 17; attends New Trier High School, Wilmette IL; student of Hans Jørgen Jensen.
  • James Hettinga, cello, 19; attends Cleveland Institute of Music; student of Dr. Melissa Kraut.
  • Dakota Cotugno, cello, 23, attends University of Colorado; student of David Requiero (Klein ‘06).
  • Julia Mirzoev, violin, 22; attends Yale University; student of Ani Kavafian.
  • Zechariah Mo, viola, 17; studies at Music Institute of Chicago; student of Roland and Almita Vamos.
  • Gabriel Polinksky, bass, 20; attends Curtis School of Music, Philadelphia; student of Hal Robinson and Edgar Meyer.
  • Strauss Shi, violin, 23; attends University of Southern California; student of Midori Goto.
  • Lucia Ticho, cello, 21; attends Columbia University; student of Richard Aaron.
  • Hannah White, violin, 19; attends the Colburn School, Los Angeles; student of Robert Lipsett. (ages as of June 1, 2019)

In the semifinal round, each performer will play an unaccompanied work by Bach, movements from notable concertos and a new commissioned composition by Carlos Oliver Simon. In the final round, the artists perform additional portions of their selected concerto and one major sonata movement.

The grand prize winner receives $13,000 along with performances with the Peninsula and Santa Cruz Symphonies, and the Gualala Arts Chamber Series, among other opportunities. The second prize winner receives $6,300 and a performance with the San José Chamber Orchestra and the Piedmont Center for the Arts. Third prize winner receives $2,500, while two fourth prize winners receive $1,500.

Each semifinalist not awarded a named prize receives $1,000. Further awards of $500 are given for the best performance of the commissioned work and of the solo Bach.

Awards of $500 are given for the best performance of the commissioned work by Carlos Simon, and of the solo Bach. Klein winners willl also participate in educational outreach in the Bay Area.

The jury includes violist Cathy Basrak, Nikki Chooi, Carlos Simon,Amir Eldan, Ian Swensen, Barbara Day Turner and Daniel Carlson. Ariel Horowitz serves as mentor.

Presented by California Music Center and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition is open to musicians between ages 15 and 23. Laureates include Jennifer Koh, Mark Kosower, Vadim Gluzman, Jennifer Frautschi, Alban Gerhardt, Frank Huang, and Robert deMaine. The competition is named for the late cellist and master teacher who devoted himself to the development of young artists.