IVCI begins 

Seventh Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
Indiana History Center, Christel DeHaan Center, Hilbert Circle Theatre, Scottish Rite Cathedral
Sept. 3-17

For those of us enraptured by listening to a stream of highly talented fiddlers coming on stage, playing well-rehearsed, mostly familiar repertoire — assisted either by a pianist, an orchestra or no one — this September is much anticipated. The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis is our fair city’s quadrennial cultural bonfire, the one event-series which puts Indy on the world’s cultural map.

Those able to attend the preliminaries (Sept. 3-6), semifinals (Sept. 7-11), Classical finals (Sept. 13-14), Romantic finals (Sept. 15-16) and the Gala Awards (Sept. 17) feel that sense of excitement, the anticipation in experiencing treasured music played with subtly varying tonal qualities, technique and musicality. In the process they become cognoscenti: ersatz judges — armchair quarterbacks — who agree or disagree with the eight jury members (originally there were nine jurors, but Igor Oistrakh regrettably had to cancel for both health and visa complications), presided over for the fourth straight time by Jaime Laredo.

While the jurors vote independently and in private, their choices are computer assembled, with program algorithms taking juror bias into account insofar as is possible. Though these awards and these choices have the greatest bearing on player benefits in the short term, one observes — in following the ensuing careers of the 36 laureates (i.e. finalists) from all past competitions — that the cognoscenti may have been the most on-target since the IVCI’s 1982 inaugural.

At this writing, 47 participants are engaged, ranging in age from 16 to 27, and coming from all areas of the globe, including Uzbekistan and Taiwan. Of course the rest of Europe and Asia are well-represented. Eleven Americans are included, as well as one Australian. There are the expected number of Japanese, Chinese, Russians and Western Europeans. Interestingly, no Canadians appear on this roster.

These 47 will all play in the preliminary rounds, held in the Indiana History Center’s Basile Theater. From these, the jurors will pick 16 to advance to the semi-finals, also held at the IHC. Both rounds draw from the violin-piano or unaccompanied-violin repertoire. These 16 will be winnowed down to six finalists for the Classical concerto finals, held at the University of Indianapolis’ Christel DeHaan Center with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and the Romantic concerto finals at the Hilbert Circle Theatre with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Immediately following the Sept. 16 concert, the jurors cast their final individual votes, and the computer crunches out the rankings of those six, who now become laureates. The top three are awarded the gold, silver and bronze medals plus cash, engagements and many other perks, which decrease in that order; the bottom three get fewer awards, being designated fourth, fifth and sixth place laureates respectively. The awards ceremony the next afternoon in the Scottish Rite Auditorium is where the public learns the rankings, learns of the special awards, hears each laureate in an excerpt, experiences the accolades from various speakers and joins in the general euphoria attendant to such events — with perhaps more than a few disappointments scattered here and there.

The IVCI was founded by the vision of IU’s late and great violinist and teacher Josef Gingold, collaborating with the organizational skills of Thomas J. Beczkiewicz. Gingold acted as head juror in the ’82, ’86 and ’90 competitions, ceding the position to Laredo in ’94. Beczkiewicz served as executive director for Cathedral Arts, the competition’s original sponsor, until 2002 when Glen Kwok took the reigns, Cathedral Arts previously having been “absorbed” by the IVCI.

For the first time, the IVCI will offer streaming Internet video as well as audio for all the competition’s musical rounds. WFYI-FM’s new radio hosts this year, Michael Toulouse and Stephen Shipps, will provide a running commentary as each player completes his/her round. There are more ancillary events attendant to this IVCI than one can count — too many to list here. Kwok mentioned two exhibits new to the 2006: “One will include Josef Gingold’s Tourte bow and the 24k gold medal that will be awarded to the 2006 gold medalist. Also we have invited a select group of the finest violin makers from around the world to join us for a three-day hands-on exhibit.”

For complete info on the other special events/exhibits, the participants, the jury and Bright Sheng’s new composition for the semi-finalists, visit www.violin.org. For specific competition information call 317-638-IVCI; for tickets call 317-639-4300.

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