Though the great 20th century violinist and music educator Yehudi Menuhin was born in New York City, the Menuhin Competition has never before been hosted in the US, let alone in North America. Held in a different city around the world every two years, the competition has previously been hosted in London, England; Cardiff, Wales; Oslo, Norway; and, in 2012, Beijing, China. The Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 marks the first time in the event’s 30-year history that it will come to America.
America and Texas in particular will be well represented at the competition. Of the 42 competitors, 16 are Americans. Two of the competitors currently reside in Texas: Twelve-year-old Claire Wells of Plano studies with Sandy Yamamoto of the acclaimed Butler School-based Miró Quartet, and Chinese international student Hao Miao is a University of North Texas undergraduate.
Butler School of Music faculty figure prominently into the competition. The nine-member international jury counts Butler School professors Brian Lewis and Anton Nel, as well as Butler School visiting lecturer David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. In addition, American Pamela Frank, professor of violin at the Curtis School of Music, will serve as chair of the jury. Competition rounds will feature the world premieres of newly commissioned works by Butler School faculty members for solo violin, both with a Texas theme: for the seniors, Donald Grantham’s “Black-eyed Suzy”; and for the juniors, Dan Welcher’s “The Cowboy and the Rattlesnake.”
The competition’s finals will include the finalists’ choice of a virtuoso work accompanied by the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra (for the juniors) and the Austin Symphony Orchestra (for the seniors). Once all results have been announced, the 10-day competition will culminate with the Closing Gala Concert on Sunday, March 2 at the Long Center featuring the Cleveland Orchestra — one of the most renowned orchestras in the US and appearing in Austin for the first time since 1976 — conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero.
In addition to ticketed events, the competition also boasts an impressive number of free events, including the Texas-themed “Yehudi Goes to Texas: Fiddle Celebration,” headlined by Austin fiddling phenom Ruby Jane. This outdoor patio concert at the Long Center on Saturday, March 1 also features Mary Hattersley’s Blazing Bows, where fiddlers ages four and up take the stage to showcase the future of Texas fiddling.
The Menuhin Competition competitors will be hosted by Austin families. Host families are still needed, so show some of that famous Texas hospitality by volunteering today!