The conductor was in London to answer questions on his starry line-up of jurors and maintaining impartiality


Conductor Valery Gergiev was in London today to launch the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, celebrating the composer’s 175th birthday. Due to take place over 18 days from 15 June 2015, the event will be held in Moscow (violinists and pianists) and St Petersburg (cellists and singers) with winners announced on 1 July in Moscow.

Held every four years, the 2015 competition has attracted entries from 623 applicants aged 16 to 32, 120 of whom have been invited to take part in the preliminary auditions – including 48 violinists and 48 cellists. Six winners will be chosen in each of the four disciplines: first prize category winners will be awarded $30,000 each and of these one Grand Prix recipient will be awarded an additional $100,000.

This year’s event benefits from a new and improved voting system, 'based on clarity, transparency, best possible fairness and simplicity'. In addition, rules state that 'jury members shall be independent and not have their own students in the competition'.

Gergiev has attracted an impressive panel of judges, including many leading soloists. Judging the violin category are Salvatore Accardo, Yuri Bashmet, Maxim Vengerov, Liana Isakadze, Leonidas Kavakos, Ilya Kaler, Boris Kushnir, Mihaela Martin, Vadim Repin, Roman Simovic, Viktor Tretyakov, Maxim Fedotov, Vera Tsu Wei Ling, James Ehnes, Michael Haefliger and Nikolaj Znaider.

On the cello panel are Wolfgang Boettcher, Mario Brunello, David Geringas, Clive Gillinson, Alexander Kniazev, Mischa Maisky, Ivan Monighetti, Sergei Roldugin, Martti Rousi, Lynn Harrell, Jan Vogler, Jian Wang and Myung-Wha Chung.

At the launch event, The Strad asked Gergiev whether he thought top soloists would make better panellists than conservatoire tutors:

‘The problem is that sometimes professors are used to being invited,’ said Gergiev. ‘In the competition world you will see the same 20 names appearing on multiple juries – it becomes a kind of club. We are not saying anything against anyone, but my opinion is that a brilliant musician who has achieved so much himself cannot be on anybody’s side, even if it’s a pupil of his own teacher. I believe in the total integrity and honesty of these people. They have very good objectivity, are very honest, and their arguments are very clear. I believe it will be a very fair competition. The only thing I’m worried about is losing someone in the first round because we musicians have a habit of judging standards very harshly!’

For a full list of shortlisted candidates – including such familiar names as violinists Alexandra Conunova, William Hagen, Young-uk Kim, Bomsori Kim, Yoo Jin Jang and Stefan Tarara – visit the Tchaikovsky Competition website.

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