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Your Menuhin Winners

Fukuda, Waarts take first in young violinist competition

By Robert Faires, 10:00AM, Tue. Mar. 4

Menhuhin Competition winners for 2014: Rennosuke Fukuda (Junior) and Stephen Waarts (Senior)
Menhuhin Competition winners for 2014: Rennosuke Fukuda (Junior) and Stephen Waarts (Senior)

The bows have been put away, the violins returned to their cases, and their owners dispersed to the far corners of the globe. But before they left, the 42 young virtuosos competing in the 2014 Menuhin Competition treated Austin to some extraordinary music over 10 days, and two ultimately earned First Prize honors in the Junior and Senior divisions.

Fourteen-year-old Rennosuke Fukuda of Japan was named the First Prize winner among the juniors (ages 16 and younger). In the finals on Friday, he soared through F. Waxman's virtuosic Carmen Fantasy backed by the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. The win comes just six months after the accomplished teen won first prize and the “Virtuos” prize at the 15th Kloster Schöntal International Competition for Violin in Germany. Rennosuke receives $7,000 and a one-year loan of a fine Italian violin by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins.

Other prize winners in the Junior division were: • Daniel Lozakovitj, 12, of Sweden, Second ($5,000); • Ludvig Gudim, 15, of Norway, Third ($3,500); • Alex Zhou, 12, of the U.S., Fourth ($2,000), and the Composer's Prize, for the best performance of "The Cowboy and the Rattlesnake," commissioned from Butler School of Music professor Dan Welcher for all Junior division players to perform in this year's Competition; • Jaewon Wee, 14, of South Korea, Fifth ($1,500).

Seventeen-year-old Stephen Waarts, a Dutch-American who grew up in California and is currently studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, claimed first prize in the Senior division after wowing the audience and jurors with his performance of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Waarts, a Junior Second Prize winner at the 2010 Menuhin in Oslo, will receive $10,000 and a one-year loan of a fine Italian violin by Christope Landon Rare Violins. But that's not all: He was also recognized with the Bach Prize ($1,500), for the best performance of a work by that composer – Waarts played his Solo Sonata in G minor – and the Composer's Prize ($1,000), for the best performance of "Black-eyed Suzy," the new work commissioned from Butler School of Music professor Donald Grantham for all Senior division players to perform in this year's Menuhin.

Other prize winners in the Senior division were: • In Mo Yang, 18, of South Korea, Second ($7,000); • Christine Seohyun Lim, 19, of the U.S, Third ($5,000); • Stephen Kim, 18, of the U.S, Fourth ($3,500) • Aaron Timothy Chooi, 20, of Canada, the EMCY Award for exceptional performance, awarded by the European Union of Music Competitions for Youth.

Videos of 2014 competition performances may be found at www.youtube.com/user/MenuhinCompetition.

Waarts and Fukuda also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Menuhin Closing Gala Concert on Sunday, March 2, at the Long Center for Performing Arts. A review of that concert will be published in the Chronicle that hits the streets this Thursday.

The next Menuhin Competition will take place in London in 2016. For more information, visit www.menuhincompetition.org.

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