LSM Newswire

Friday, July 15, 2011

Conductor Jahja Ling conducts the final round of the Cooper International Violin Competition

The 2011 Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, featuring 24 young violinists, takes place at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music August 11 - 19

Jahja Ling conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in the final round of the competition on
Friday, August 19, at 8 pm in Severance Hall


Conductor Jahja Ling Photo by David Hartig

OBERLIN, OHIO (July 13, 2011) — The Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Orchestra are pleased to present the 2nd annual Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition. Building on the historic relationship between the two institutions, this international event will enhance educational opportunities for young musicians by offering scholarships, cash prizes, and the chance to perform in concert venues across the globe.

On August 11, 2011, 24 of the world’s most promising young violinists will converge on the Oberlin College campus to take part in the week long competition that culminates in a final, concerto round performance with The Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall. Musicians between the ages of 13 and 18 will also vie for three full scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, pending admission, and more than $20,000 in total prize money; the first-prize winner will receive $10,000 and concert engagements with orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai, China.

The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition debuted in summer 2010 for pianists, followed by this year’s competition for violinists, and will alternate annually between the two instruments thereafter.

The competition is sponsored by Thomas and Evon Cooper, who reside near Boston. Mr. Cooper, a 1978 Oberlin College graduate and a member of Oberlin’s Board of Trustees, is a partner in the Boston investment firm of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Company; his wife, Evon, is a pianist and private piano teacher.

“My wife Evon and I are thrilled to be part of this exciting endeavor,” says Thomas Cooper. “We believe that it is important to encourage and support young artists in pursuing their musical aspirations, and we hope that the Cooper Competition serves to identify and showcase top youth talent from around the world for many years to come.”

“For an aspiring musician, there is no greater thrill than performing with one of the world's great orchestras,” says Dean of the Conservatory David H. Stull. “This gift from the Cooper family will provide an extraordinary and unparalleled opportunity for young violinists and pianists from around the world. We are deeply honored that Tom and Evon have chosen the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Orchestra as hosts for this remarkable competition.”

“This initiative of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music invigorates our historic relationship,” says Gary Hanson, Executive Director of The Cleveland Orchestra. “We are pleased that our orchestra and the Severance Hall stage will be integral to the Cooper Competition, and we look forward to welcoming its gifted young musicians to Cleveland.”

Gregory Fulkerson, professor of violin at Oberlin, will direct this year’s violin competition. “I am very proud that the Oberlin conservatory, with the outstanding commitment of the Cooper family, has taken this visionary step towards discovering and promoting the violin stars of the next generation,” says Fulkerson. “I am especially excited about Oberlin’s unique partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra, which provides the ideal format for what is recognized as a major international competition.”

The aspiring young artists hail from countries around the world including Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, South Korea, Japan, China, and regions across the United States. This year’s distinguished panel of judges includes Gregory Fulkerson, from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and chairman of the jury for the 2011 Cooper International Violin Competition; David Bowlin, assistant professor of violin at Oberlin and founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble; David Cerone, former president of the Cleveland Institute of Music; Fan Tao, conductor of the China National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra; Dora Schwarzberg, from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna; Tong Weidong, director of violin studies at the Central Conservatory Middle School in Beijing; Almita Vamos, professor of violin at Northwestern University and the Music Institute of Chicago; and Milan Vitek, professor of violin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music

In addition to a preliminary round that was held on April 30 through May 2 in Beijing, China, young violinists interested in entering the 2011 Cooper Competition first submit video recorded auditions of repertoire specified in the online application at www.oberlin.edu/cooper. Twenty-four competitors are chosen to perform in three live rounds at the Oberlin conservatory beginning on Saturday, August 13. The final three musicians will advance to the finals at Severance Hall, where they will perform a full concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday, August 19. The top three musicians will win $10,000, $6,000, and $3,000, respectively, and those in fourth, fifth, and sixth place will be awarded $1,000 each. The final three will also be awarded full scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, pending admission, valued at more than $150,000 each. The audience will award an additional $500 in cash to one of the finalists, selected by popular vote. In addition to prize money, the first-prize winner will receive concert engagements with orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai, China.

“The intent of all of these prizes,” says last year’s piano competition director Robert Shannon, professor of piano and director of keyboard studies at Oberlin, “is to recognize and encourage outstanding young musicians, and to establish the Cooper Competition as one of the foremost competitions of its kind.” In addition to the experiences gained by performing under the rigors of a multi-round event, competitors are also invited to take private lessons and participate in master classes, which are offered by Oberlin faculty and competition judges. “The partnership of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music allows us to create a unique event: a high-level competition with opportunities for enrichment and education for everyone.”

Preliminary and two final rounds of the violin competition are open to the public, giving Ohioans a chance to hear some of the most promising young violinists in the world perform with an internationally renowned orchestra. A complete schedule is available at www.oberlin.edu/cooper. Admission for the preliminary rounds and the recital final round is free; the latter takes place in the conservatory's Warner Concert Hall on Wednesday, August 17, at 7:00 p.m., hosted by Robert Conrad, president of WCLV, Cleveland’s classical music radio station. The event will be broadcast live on 104.9-FM WCLV and on www.wclv.com.

The concerto final round on Friday, August 19 at Severance Hall, will also be broadcast live on WCLV and hosted by Robert Conrad. The program begins at 8 p.m., with Jahja Ling conducting The Cleveland Orchestra and the top three finalists. Box seats are $25, dress circle seats are $20, and orchestra seats are $15; all seats are reserved. The Severance Hall Ticket Office is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141 for more information or online at www.clevelandorchestra.com.

Applications and details for both the violin and piano competitions are posted on the Oberlin web site, at www.oberlin.edu/cooper.

Oberlin and The Cleveland Orchestra
The relationship between Oberlin and The Cleveland Orchestra dates back nearly a century, beginning with the philanthropy of John Long Severance, an 1885 Oberlin graduate and flutist who founded the Musical Arts Association, under which The Cleveland Orchestra was established in 1918. Severance and his wife were the major donors for the construction of The Cleveland Orchestra’s home, Severance Hall, and Mr. Severance served as the orchestra’s second board president. The Cleveland Orchestra first performed in Oberlin in 1919, six months after its founding, and it has returned to Oberlin each season since, giving 210 performances on campus to date as part of Oberlin's Artist Recital Series. Members of the orchestra teach at Oberlin, Oberlin graduates are among the orchestra’s ranks—James Feddeck ’05 was appointed Assistant Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra in 2009—and the conservatory’s best students have been integrated into the orchestra’s performances and other special projects for years.

The Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music is renowned internationally as a professional music school of the highest caliber. Praised as a “national treasure” by the Washington Post, the conservatory, founded in 1865 and situated amid the intellectual vitality of Oberlin College since 1867, is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. Oberlin’s alumni have gone on to achieve illustrious careers in all aspects of the music world. Conservatory students and alumni have won top prizes in numerous international violin competitions, including the International Tchaikovsky Competition, the Stulberg International String Competition, the J.S. Bach International Violin Competition, the Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition, the Kreisler International Competition, the Beethoven Competition, the Competition for Young String Soloists, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition, the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and the Avery Fisher Career Grant. For more information about Oberlin, visit www.oberlin.edu.

The Cleveland Orchestra
Under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra has become one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world. In concerts at its winter home at Severance Hall and at each summer’s Blossom Festival, in residencies from Miami to Vienna, and on tour around the world, The Cleveland Orchestra sets the highest standards of artistic excellence and creative programming. The Cleveland Orchestra’s educational programs have introduced nearly four million Cleveland-area schoolchildren to symphonic music. Founded in 1918, The Cleveland Orchestra today reaches a broad and loyal constituency through concerts, community engagement, touring, residencies, and recordings and radio broadcasts available online and on DVD and CD. For additional information, please visit www.clevelandorchestra.com.

Guest Conductor Jahja Ling
Jahja Ling’s distinguished career as an internationally renowned conductor has earned him an exceptional reputation for musical integrity, intensity, and expressivity. He is in his eighth season as music director of the San Diego Symphony, where he has received the highest praise for his live performances and local and international broadcasts and recordings. Under his leadership, the San Diego Symphony has reached a new level of unprecedented artistic excellence, with its continuing increase of record attendance for the last seven years. Jahja Ling also holds one of the longest continuous relationships with The Cleveland Orchestra. His and the orchestra’s telecast performance of A Concert in Tribute and Remembrance for 9/11 received an Emmy Award. During the course of an unprecendented 26 consecutive seasons with The Cleveland Orchestra, he has conducted more than 600 works in 450 concerts for an audience of more than two million people. His recordings include a range of works on the Telarc, Azica Records, and Continuum labels, one of which was nominated for a Grammy award. With the San Diego Symphony, he has undertaken many commissions as well as premieres of many new works; in 2009, Never Far Away: Music of Bright Sheng, featuring Oberlin Assistant Professor of Harp Yolanda Kondonassis, was released by Telarc Records.

Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, of Chinese descent, Jahja Ling began to play the piano at age 4 and studied at the Jakarta School of Music. At age 17, he won the Jakarta Piano Competition and was awarded a Rockefeller grant to attend the Juilliard School, where he earned a master’s degree. At the Yale School of Music he studied orchestra conducting under Otto-Werner Mueller, earning a doctor of musical arts degree in 1985. He received the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductor’s Award and the Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood. Bernstein, who became one of his most influential mentors, subsequently chose him to be a Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. Jahja Ling is the first and only conductor of Chinese descent who has conducted all of the major orchestras in North America, including Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. In 1988, he made his very successful European debut at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Subsequently, he has appeared as guest conductor for most of the prominent orchestras in Asia and Europe.

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