Menuhin Competition in April 2018 will be streamed live on Arte Concert

Blogging about classical music can be a bit of a time-suck. You can start your day intent on publishing the thing you've been working on for the past couple of days and then, right out of nowhere, someone emails with a press release about an event in a couple of weeks time. Your eyes widen. Schedules go all to cock. To-do-lists decimated. 

So it is here. This post is principally about flagging that the forthcoming Menuhin Competition in Geneva will be streamed (for free) via the Arte Concert website from Friday 13 April. Dates below.

Founded by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1983, the Menuhin Competition is is aimed at young musicians under the age of 22 from across the world. Forty-four violinists are selected to compete. Previous prizewinners include Tasmin Little, Nikolaj Znaider, Ilya Gringolts, Julia Fischer and Jennifer Pike.

The dates of the competition broadcasts are as follows: 

Junior First Rounds – Friday 13 April
Junior First Rounds – Saturday 14 April
Senior First Rounds – Sunday 15 April
Senior First Rounds – Monday 16 April
Junior Semi-Final – Tuesday 17 April
Senior Semi-Final – Wednesday 18 April
Masterclasses – Thursday 19 April (Pamela Frank, Henning Kraggerud, Joji Hattori)
Junior Finals – Friday 20 April
Senior Finals – Saturday 21 April
Closing Gala Concert – Sunday 22 April

But more than this (and here I may risk prompting silently asked questions in readers along the lines of, "er, didn't you know that already?") is the delightful discovery that a Europe-wide arts TV channel is, as a result of the European Union and a variety of like-minded broadcasters, available online.

The offering appears to be rich, recent and, important, free of the usual nauseating on-screen presentation tropes. A sort of grown-up BBC Four. 

And no, I had absolutely no idea it even existed online. A delightful discovery. 

The Menuhin Competition starts on Friday 13 April and is available live (for free) via Arte Concert. The concluding Gala Concert is on Sunday 22 April. 

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There’s a Menuhin test?

In an article written for The Spectator We’re failing the Menuhin test, Damian Johnson highlights how the ‘worlds toughest violin competition is jam-packed with Asians – and there’s not a single Brit’. The article is based on an interview with the Menuhin Competition artistic director Gordon Back:

‘The truth is,’ says Gordon Back, lowering his voice, ‘that if the violin finalists from the BBC Young Musician of the Year were to enter the Menuhin Competition, they wouldn’t make it to the first round.’ Not through the first round, note, but to the first round: they wouldn’t be good enough to compete.

An odd thing to say because the natural response to that comment would be, “Well no, did anyone really expect the finalists in the Young Musician to make it to the first round of the Menuhin anyway?”

The two competitions are very different. One look at the rules around eligibility, the way in which the competition is run and the prize on offer makes that quite clear.

The Menuhin competition has two competition streams: Junior (for under 16s) and Senior (for under 22s); the repertoire requirements are fixed; and the prize fund is considerable – $10,000 for the Senior first prize and $7,500 for the Junior first prize, with prizes award for second to fifth place.

The BBC Young Musician competition rules invite applicants from a variety of instruments; applicants need to have attained Grade 8 and be under 18; the competition is split into various rounds in which competitors play their own programme of music which can’t exceed more than 8, 12 and 16 minutes for the regional, category audition rounds and category finals respectively; the final sees the soloist performing a concerto between 15 and 30 minutes long, on a stage in front of a massive audience .. oh .. and in front of TV cameras at nearly every stage. The prize is £3,000 plus a trophy and ongoing relationship with YCAT to help develop the individual’s future career.