Violinist.com Los Angeles, CA March 1, 2014
Seven young violinists, ranging in age from 12 to 14, played in the Junior Finals Friday in the Menuhin Competition at the Butler School of Music in Austin. Those finalists were: Ilana Zaks 13, (American); Rennosuke Fukuda, 14, (Japanese); Elvina Sung-Eun Auh, 14, (Korean/American); Jaewon Wee, 14, (South Korean); Alex Zhou, 12, (American); Daniel Lozakovitj, 12, (Swedish) and Ludvig Gudim, 14, (Norwegian).
During the afternoon, each competitor was required to play the first movement from a specified Beethoven, Schubert or Brahms Sonata. Also, each performed the Handel-Halvorsen "Passacaglia," with cellist Bion Tsang. Incidentally, Bion Tsang should also receive an award for giving seven performances of this not-exactly-easy-to-play duet all in one afternoon, and with kids who had the chops to ride the piece like a speed demon. He did it with sensitivity and fantastic technique, all with a supportive smile and reassuring demeanor for each contestant.
Daniel Lozakovitj immediately grabbed me by the ear with his beautiful vibrato in his Beethoven No. 5, Op. 24. When it was over, he hugged the pianist. He seemed to have a friendly and deferential personality that also showed in his playing; during the Handel-Halvorsen he seemed to be making such a sincere effort to enter into a true musical conversation with the cellist that he actually stepped in his direction, inching his way toward the cellist throughout the piece. When it was over, he insisted that Bion Tsang accompany him for the curtain call.
As jury member Pamela Frank said when announcing the prize winners: the accomplishments of these bright and promising young artists bode well for the future of our art. For a list of the prize winners in the finals, please see this page.
By Laurie Niles