Two Israeli Musicians to Judge Chinese International Music Competition

'China has an enormous arena for classical music, which is growing quickly and many in Israel don’t know about it,' says Prof. Arie Vardi, who will sit on the panel of jurists alongside Julliard professor Yoheved Kaplinsky

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Yoheved "Veda" Kaplinsky and Arie Vardi
Yoheved "Veda" Kaplinsky and Arie Vardi Credit: Stanley Waterman, Tomer Appelbaum

Two Israelis will be among the judges at the First China International Music Competition for pianists this May. Most members of the jury are well-known music teachers, including Prof. Arie Vardi from Israel. The chairwoman of the jury and the artistic director of the piano competition is Yoheved "Veda" Kaplinsky, an Israeli who is a professor of music at the Julliard School in New York.

Twenty participants will be invited to perform in the preliminary round and 12 will go on to perform in the semifinal round. The three finalists will perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by conductor Yannick Nezet Seguin, one of the oldest and most renowned orchestras in the United States.

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The first prize winner will receive $150,000 and a gold medal. The winner will also receive three years of international tours managed by an international artists management company.

The director of the competition is Prof. Wang Liguang, who is the president of China Conservatory of Music, which is sponsoring the competition. Students of those serving on the panel of judges will not be allowed to compete in the competition, which takes place in Beijing from May 4 through May 21.

Vardi, who won the prestigious Israel Prize in 2017, was a professor of piano and the head of the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. He said the new competition was rather characteristic of musical life in China. “China has an enormous arena for classical music, which is growing quickly and many in Israel don’t know about it.”

China has large numbers of concert halls, large and of a quality unimaginable in Europe and the United States, he says. The halls are exactingly constructed by experienced architects and acoustical experts with a large audience “that is the opposite of what we know [in Israel]. Here, the classical music community is from a certain age and up. In China, it is from about the same age – and down. There is no babysitter, so young parents come with the child,” said Vardi.

The competitions, and concert halls, also have excellent pianos, says Vardi. While classical orchestras may be on the decline elsewhere around the world, in China they are opening new ones and expanding. “In my youth, there were 10 competitions for pianists in the world. Today there are about 1,000.” The Chinese understand this and naturally are starting a larger competition, with more money and more impressive that anywhere else, he says. “Beijing is trying to establish the competition of competitions.”