VC INTERVIEW | Glen Kwok, Executive Director of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
The competition will begin on Friday, September 9, 2022, followed by 16 days of Preliminaries, Semi-Finals, Classical Finals, and Finals
The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (IVCI) in Indianapolis, Indiana, has named 40 violinists from around the world to take part in its 11th quadrennial edition.
Open to violinists aged between 16 and 30 years old, the IVCI announced its participants here. Overall, those selected represent 16 countries across five continents and range from ages 17 to 29.
The Violin Channel had a chance to speak with Glen Kwok, Executive Director of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, to learn more about this year's edition.
Can you tell us about the Indianapolis competition?
The quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (IVCI) made its debut 40 years ago under the artistic direction of the late Josef Gingold, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and former Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell. Gingold had served on the juries of every major violin competition in the world. At the Fourth Quadrennial Competition in 1994, Gingold passed the torch to his most famous student, Jaime Laredo, who then became Jury President and Artistic Director. Laredo has since carried on the reverence and professionalism that was so integral to Mr. Gingold’s musical and personal philosophy for this competition. Today, the IVCI has become regarded as one of the most important competitions for launching a career due to its significant post-competition career mentorship.
What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
Quite simply, the ideal candidate would be a well-rounded musician who is ready for an international concert career. For this reason, we required the most extensive and broadest range of repertoire ever requested for our screening round. This allowed the screening committee to see the applicants’ breadth of musicianship upfront.
Can you tell us about the prizes that you offer?
The 2022 Competition will offer the highest prize package in its history, valued at over $350,000. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalists will receive $75,000, $30,000, and $15,000, respectively. The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth place Laureates will receive $10,000, $8,000, and $6,000. All semi-finalists who are not finalists receive $1,000. Additionally, $20,000 in special prizes are awarded for the best performances of works in each round.
Beyond these cash prizes, the IVCI provides extensive career mentorship and concert management for the three Medalists for four years. The mentorship includes financial planning, publicity, fashion consultancy, and media relations for the Laureates. The Gold Medalist will also receive a recording contract, a Carnegie Hall recital debut, and a new website complete with maintenance for four years.
Additionally, Laureates will have the opportunity to use a violin from the IVCI collection, including the 1683 “ex-Gingold” Stradivarius, for a period of four years at no cost to them.
The finalists will have the privilege of performing with acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin. What are you hoping the candidates will take away from this wonderful opportunity?
Maestro Slatkin is extraordinarily dedicated to assisting young artists and we hope that the six finalists enjoy every minute of this opportunity to work with and learn from one of the great musicians of our time.
What do you think are most the important skills to develop at the beginning of an international career?
Launching a successful career involves a multitude of musical and non-musical elements, both of which are equally important. It goes without saying that you need to be in the best musical condition possible at all times, and time management becomes one of the most important skills to develop quickly.
Most young artists at the beginning of their careers have yet to develop a large repertoire, so it is critical to broaden one’s repertoire as quickly as possible. The pressures of multiple concert engagements tend to limit the amount of time a violinist has to learn new repertoire, and therefore, quickly learning how to juggle multiple tasks becomes extremely critical.
Concentrating on musical development is paramount, but keeping up with the non-musical elements of one’s career is equally critical in the beginning. Website development and regular upkeep, social media, interaction with your manager, project planning, travel, and logistic planning all take a significant amount of time and represent continuous work.
Who are some past prize winners who’ve gone to achieve celebrated careers?
To date, the IVCI has a distinguished roster of sixty kaureates who have become some of the most successful solo and recording artists, concertmasters, chamber musicians, and pedagogues across the globe. A few of our celebrated Laureates from each quadrennial include Mihaela Martin (1982 Gold Medalist), Leonidas Kavakos (1986 Silver Medalist), Martin Beaver (Tokyo String Quartet, 1990 Laureate), Stefan Milenkovich (1994 Silver Medalist), Liviu Prunaru (Concertgebouw Concertmaster, 1998 Silver Medalist), Barnabás Kelemen (2002 Gold Medalist), Augustin Hadelich (2006 Gold Medalist), Benjamin Beilman (2010 Bronze Medalist), Jinjoo Cho (2014 Gold Medalist) and most recently Richard Lin (2018 Gold Medalist) among many others. The complete list of Laureates can be found here.
When you commissioned composer John Harbison to write a piece for this year’s edition of the competition, did you give him specific instructions?
We typically request a work roughly five minutes in length and it is the composer’s choice whether it be scored for solo violin or violin and piano. It is our wish that the composer creates a work that will have a life beyond its world premiere at the Competition. One of our main purposes of commissioning a work is to continually contribute to the vast violin repertoire, and we are extremely proud that many of our commissioned works over the last 40 years have done just that!
What are your goals for the future of the Indianapolis competition?
The Indianapolis competition is dedicated to not only identifying the greatest talent worldwide but also to help launch the careers of its Laureates. To do that, we must continually be aware of the changes within the music industry and be willing to change accordingly so that we can best assist the next generation of great violinists.
How can people watch the competition?
Part of the full competition experience for the Participants is to perform before a live audience, and we highly encourage patrons to enjoy each round in person. We provide extremely affordable tickets to all rounds – Preliminaries ($15 per ticket), Semi-Finals ($18), Classical Finals ($15-30), and the Final round with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra ($15-40).
For those who cannot attend live, we will livestream the entire competition online, via the IVCI website (www.violin.org), as well as through our media partner The Violin Channel (www.theviolinchannel.com), with live commentary by Indianapolis’ Classical Music Indy Program Director Michael Toulouse and renowned violinist Joel Smirnoff. This commentary will also be aired on 88.7 FM WICR, a public arts radio station owned by the University of Indianapolis.