Young violinists to compete for $5,000 prize




Young musicians from around the world will gather in San Diego on June 12 and 13, to participate in the 11th annual California International Young Artists Competition (CIYAC). The contest alternates between violin and piano competition each year, and the 2010 CIYAC features world-class violinists under age 25, all competing for the $5,000 first place prize and substantial second and third place prizes.

The competition, which is open to the public, takes place in two locations this year, with the semifinals at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla, where artists will be performing sonatas by Prokofiev and Beethoven, as well as virtuoso pieces by Paganini and Wieniawski. At the finals at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, the audience will hear concerti by Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, among others.

Competitors were chosen based upon DVD submissions that came in from across the world. The 12 semi- finalists, chosen on May 16, include one competitor from Taiwan, one from Venezuela, six from the United States, and four South Korean nationals studying in the United States. After the June 12 semifinals, four of these musicians will go on to the final round.

Two of the 2010 semifinalists are San Diego residents: Carolyn Lee of 4S Ranch and Annelle Gregory of Carmel Valley. Both attend the California Institute of Music.

“I’ve been playing the violin for seven years and I’d heard about this competition,” said Gregory, 14. “I thought, I’ll just enter and see if I get in. This is such a wonderful opportunity to experience an international competition.”

Added Carolyn Lee, 16, “Participating in this contest would be the greatest because I would be competing with some of the world’s top musicians. I have been playing the violin for 12 years and I am excited for this experience.”

Traditionally, the CIYAC is sponsored solely by its namesake non-profit group, which was established in 2002. However, this year, the group has partnered with Friends of Musical Arts (FOMA), a San Diego-based assembly created in support of young musicians training in classical music. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is also providing a $5,000 grant for the event.

According to Danny Dobby, FOMA’s board chair, 40 percent of this year’s CIYAC will be funded by FOMA, which is also helping to publicize the event. The CIYAC group, led by board chair Mel Takahara, is working with volunteers to host competitors and accommodate them in San Diego.

“It is significant that this unique event of international stature, the only one of its kind in the Western United States, is taking place in San Diego,” Takahara said. “For aspiring professional musicians and concert artists, international competitions provide an intense training field that allows them to apply all that they have learned.”

Last year’s CIYAC winner was pianist Yekwon Sunwoo, 21, of Anyang, South Korea. Sunwoo, who now studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, heard about the competition from friends and was encouraged to participate by a mentor.

2008’s winner, Kathrin ten Hagen, 27, is from Steinfurt, Germany and she currently studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston. “I would tell this year’s competitors to enjoy the moment, because this contest is not just about winning,” Sunwoo said. “The most important thing to remember is that we are trying to convey through our interpretation what the composers are trying to say, and we have to tell the audience something through our music at all times.”

If you go

CIYAC Semifinals

■ When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 12

■ Where: Sherwood Auditorium, MCASD

■ 700 Prospect, La Jolla

■ Contact: (858) 459- 3728,

■ Friends Concert: Juilliard violinist David Chan, USC pianist Kevin Fitzgerald and master violinist Pasha Tselin performing pieces by Brahms, Corigliano and Moszkowski. 8 to 9:30 p.m. June 12, Sherwood Auditorium

■ Tickets: Donations CIYAC Finals

■ When: Noon to 2 p.m. June 13

■ Where: California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido

■ Tickets: Donations

■ Contact: (760) 839- 4138,