One of the world’s most important violin competitions is coming to Oslo.

Next week three of Norway’s finest violin talents are travelling to Cardiff to participate in the Yehudi Menuhin international violin competition. In two years the competition, which is held every second year, arrives in Oslo.

Ragnhild Hemsing (Foto: Thor Oestbye)

This year the competition takes place between April 12th and 20th. 42 participants from across the world have qualified, among them three Norwegians, which make the Norwegian delegation the competition’s largest. All three are students at the Barrat Due Institute in Oslo.

-Norway is at the forefront when it comes to violin talents says Sthephan Barrat Due, artistic leader of the institute.

At this year’s contest Norway is represented by Ragnhild Hemsing (20 years old from Aurdal, pictured), who will compete in the senior category, while Guro Kleiven Hagen (13 years old from Fagernes) and Sonoko Miriam Shimano Welde (11, living in Bergen) will compete in the junior class.

-This is a unique chance for these young talents to showcase themselves, says Barrat Due.

The 42 young violinists will compete against each other for ten whole days before a winner is pronounced.

-The competition is an opportunity to get to know some of the world’s finest young violinists says the principal of the Norwegian Academy of Music, Erik Birkeland. Together with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Barrat Due Musical Institute he will be in charge of organizing the contest when Oslo hosts the event in 2010.

-Some of the prime names of the world of violin and strings are in the jury, and they will give concerts and master classes during the ten days the competition lasts.
-We are happy and proud to have been given the honour of arranging the contest in Oslo in 2010, says Birkeland.
-It will be a splendid festival, centred on one of the most flexible and expressive of instruments, the violin.

In addition to the regular rounds of the competition there will be concerts and other events that include artists from different sides of Norwegian music –from professional orchestras to students from culture schools.

This year’s jury includes names like Pamela Frank, Dong-Suk Kang and Maxim Vengerov.

Yehudi Menuhin

The Yehudi Menuhin international violin competition was founded by Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) 25 years ago. The competition has been the breakthrough for some of the world’s foremost violinist, such as Ilya Gringolts, Isabelle von Keulen and Nikolaj Znaider. Yehudi Menuhin was one of the great violin virtuosos of the twentieth century. He was passionate about music’s standing in society and its importance to people.

Arve Tellefsen, the Norwegian violinist extraordinary, relates:
-I had the great pleasure of playing with Lord Menuhin on several occasions. Among other things I did a recording with him of Carls Nielsen’s violin concerto, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He was a great inspiration to us all, both as a musician and as a human being.

Menuhin was born in New York of parents hailing from Gomel in Belarus. But he grew up in San Francisco. His breakthrough was in 1929, at the age of 13, when he played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin. After standing ovations the audience remained in awe for several minutes. Albert Einstein, who was supposedly present, is reported to have said “Now I know there is a God in heaven.”

His career as a concert violinist took Menuhin across the world. In 1963 he founded his own violin school in London. And in 1977 his great social commitment led him to instigate the concert series Live Music Now, which presented music to those who could normally not afford to go to concerts. In 1999 he founded the Yehudi-Menuhin-Stiftung in Germany. The foundation engages in work related to economically underprivileged groups and musical education in common schools. Menuhin is the recipient of numerous international awards and he has his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

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