32 Virtuosos. 1 Passion.
Next Competition July 2020

Blog #3 from Kathron Sturrock

Announcement release date 17-Jul-2016

We are now halfway through the chamber music semi-final

We are now halfway through the chamber music semi-final, and today we will be hearing six more competitors playing either a violin and piano sonata with Tasmin Little, or a piano quintet with the Goldner String Quartet. These musicians were absolutely fantastic – so tuned in to the demanding needs of this particular stage of the competition. They had to find the difficult balance of putting the competitors’ interpretations and ideas into the position of prime importance, whilst at the same time bringing into the mix their own ideas, so that a true chamber music dialogue could be born and flourish. Sometimes, their rôle might also have elements of being a mentor, as well as a colleague, a hard one to deliver without undermining the competitor’s own sense of self-assurance. The works that were played – and those being played today – are all demanding ones, and Tasmin and the Goldners were truly professional in the way they were continually alert to the musical directions taken by the competitors. Above all, it felt like a real concert, which is a credit to everyone.

Today is the last round to be held in the Conservatorium, and the results will be announced later this evening after the final group of competitors has played. Over the weekend there will be much rehearsing of concertos, so there will still be plenty going on in the practice rooms, but for the audience the next venue to occupy in support of this terrific competition will be the Opera House.
I gather that seats are now pretty hard to come by, which is brilliant as it’s a big space – but I will miss the intimacy of the concert hall in the Conservatorium – and miss greeting the many people one comes to recognise over the days –

The audience has been superb – really quiet, concentrated and engaged. Some people have been coming to all the recitals, often with the same group of friends. After each competitor has played they start up a lively conversation, and it’s clear from these I have either overheard or been brought into that there are many different allegiances and that these allegiances are defended and supported with great vigour and enthusiasm. So again, there are going to be disappointed members of the audience, as well as competitors, when the results come out tonight.

Also finishing today will be the Australian Showcase, where before each session a young pianist has played for a few minutes to break the ice and to tune in our minds and ears to the sound of the piano. All the players I heard – and I heard most of them – were admirably prepared, and played a wide range of music with great composure and presence. There was a wide age range, too, some as young as 9 years old, and some already flexing their muscles on the professional music scene. As well as being part of the live broadcast, the players all got comments from the jury, so I hope this was a worthwhile experience for them all, as well as an entertaining one for us.

The wonderful volunteers also make their final contribution today – they have been working here for a fortnight, organising the practice rota amongst other things, letting us in and out of our practice rooms, and – most importantly? – bringing a constant array of food for the competitors and other people working backstage….it was also a nice place for people to meet and have a chat., especially if it was bright outside as there was then a suntrap for us to bask in…..Sydney seems to have been pretty cold some of these last days.
I had to break off in the middle of writing this to get some work done: we have now heard the first three competitors, and the final selection isn’t far away. There are also a large number of special prizes to be awarded – best performance of an Australian piece, for example – so I imagine the jury is going to be out for some time. I will probably take myself off somewhere, as I did before, and read the results tomorrow on the website, unless someone texts me them first!