After a week of competition, the 2016 Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition has ended with a tie for first place. At the final at the Odense Concert Hall in Denmark, the jury were unable to choose between Ji Yoon Lee from South Korea and Liya Petrova from Bulgaria, and so named them both as winners. Third prize went to the other finalist, Luke Hsu from the US.
Each of the finalists played two concertos over two concerts, one of which had to be the Nielsen Concerto. Ji Yoon Lee and Petrova chose to perform the Tchaikovsky Concerto, while Hsu opted for the Brahms Concerto.
The final itself was the culmination of a competition that had begun the previous weekend with 23 entrants each playing a 25-minute solo recital of Bach, Paganini and Mozart. Over subsequent rounds, the 23 were whittled down to 12 players, then six, and then the three finalists, as the jury set about trying to identify the performer with the greatest all-round talent.
Neither of the two eventual winners are entirely unfamiliar with the big stage: Ji Yoon Lee, who has studied in Germany as well as Korea, has performed with orchestras including the Philharmonia and the Seoul Philharmonic; and Petrova, whose teachers include acclaimed soloists Augustin Dumay and Antje Weithaas, has played with the Brussels and Luxembourg Philharmonics.
The two winners both enjoy a prize of 11,000 euros, concert engagements across Europe and the opportunity to record for the Orchid Classics label. Talking about their success, the chair of the jury Nicolaj Znaider, who himself won the Nielsen Competition in 1992, said that ‘it was impossible for us to separate these two excellent violinists, equally deserving to win. The jury is convinced that both artists have exciting careers ahead of them’.