A Recap of the 2021 Menuhin Competition in Richmond, Virginia

The stereotypical image of the child prodigy violinist is vivid in many people’s minds, but few understand the true extent of virtuosity some of these children possess at such a young age. Their performances at the Menuhin Competition rival that of adult professional violinists around the world.

The Menuhin Competition is a major event in the violin world.

Jason Hollinger

The Menuhin Competition is a major event in the violin world.

Noah Thompson, Columnist

The Menuhin Competition is one of the few events that draws rare, child prodigy violinists together to compete for a substantial reward and supreme recognition. The Competition has been around for nearly 40 years. The competition runs from May 14 to May 23 and is for violinists only, as stated on the Menuhin Competition’s Website. It features competitors, as well as adjudicators from around the world with unbelievable accomplishments.

But what makes the Menuhin Competition so special? The Menuhin Competition also provides extraordinary rewards for those who achieve first place in both the junior and senior divisions, which can be found on the Prizes page of the Menuhin Competition’s Website. To underline the meaning of this competition, the Menuhin Competition supports contemporary-classical composers and commissions pieces for the competition. There is even a specific award for the best performance of a contemporary-classical piece. The senior division is 16 to 22-years-old, and the junior division is all those younger than 16. In addition, prizewinners in the junior and senior divisions will be given incredible performance and other opportunities. Here are the major prizes for the senior division:

  • 1st place: $20,000 (USD) and a free, 2-year rental of a golden period Stradivarius violin, which is worth millions of dollars. This comes with a brand-new bow made by Christoph Landon as well.
  • 2nd place: $15,000 and a free, 2-year rental of a high-quality old violin.
  • 3rd place: $10,000.
  • 4th place: $5,000.
  • Mozart Prize: $1,500 (This prize is for the participant who played the best performance of a piece by Mozart).
  • Composer Award: $1,000 (This award is for the participant who did the best performance of a contemporary-classical piece written specifically for the Menuhin Competition).

Junior division prizes:

  • 1st place: $10,000 (USD) and a free, 2-year loan of a high-quality, old, Italian violin.
  • 2nd place: $7,500 and a free, 2-year loan of a high-quality old violin.
  • 3rd place: $5,000.
  • 4th place: $4,000.
  • 5th place: $3,000.
  • Composer Award: $1,000 (same parameters as for the Composer Award in the senior division).

Now, for the most expected part of any competition, the winners of the final round. Even though these musicians are incredibly talented, which is reflected by these rewards, there are also dozens of other young musicians who did not make it to the finals but still deserve an honorable mention for their talent, which you can read more about on the Menuhin Competition’s Website. You can watch all the performances in the competition on the Menuhin Competition’s YouTube Channel.

Senior Division:

  • 1st place: 18-year-old María Dueñas from Spain
  • 2nd place: 20-year-old Simon Zhu from Germany
  • 3rd place: 18-year-old Hana Chang from the United States
  • 4th place: 21-year-old Karisa Chiu from the United States
  • Mozart Prize (joint): Hana Chang and Simon Zhu 
  • Composer Award (joint): Karisa Chiu and Emily Shehi 

Junior division:

  • 1st place: 15-year-old Keila Wakao from the United States
  • 2nd place: 15-year-old Edward Walton from Australia
  • 3rd place: 15-year-old Hannah Wan Ching Tam from China
  • 4th place: 14-year-old Kento Hong from the United States
  • 5th place: 14-year-old Boha Moon from Korea
  • Composer Award: Kaila Wakao

Lastly, the YouTube Channel TwoSet Violin did a collaboration with the Menuhin Competition and had a limited edition tote bag for the Menuhin Competition. In addition, they got a former Menuhin prizewinner, two of the adjudicators, and a current contestant in this year’s competition to do a humorous skit about the Menuhin Competition. 

The Menuhin Competition is a very unique event that showcases some of the most talented children in the world. While the competition normally has its contestants perform with a full orchestra accompaniment, because of COVID, they were only able to have a piano accompanist. The performances were still breathtaking and the musicality and phrasing was beautiful and worth listening to.