Watch the world’s finest young violinists in a virtual Menuhin Competition for 2021

20 April 2021, 21:02 | Updated: 1 May 2021, 19:58

Menuhin Competition 2021
Menuhin Competition 2021. Picture: Menuhin Competition

By Kyle Macdonald

Watch a digital edition of the legendary competition that helped launch the virtuoso careers of Ray Chen, Julia Fischer, Christian Li, Lara St. John and many more.

As with many musical plans for 2020, COVID-19, travel restrictions, and social distancing all got in the way of last year’s Yehudi Menuhin violin competition.

But now, a year’s delay has given each young contestant an extra 12 months of practice and preparation, and has allowed the hosts in Richmond, Virginia (US) to put together an expansive event with a mix of live and virtual moments and crisscrossing genres, with the violin always front and centre.

For the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021, already hailed by the Artistic Director as producing the “highest-ever level” of performance, 43 competitors will send video performances to remote jury members.

New works by composers Mason Bates and Mark O’Connor have been commissioned by the Richmond Symphony for the occasion.

Christian Li plays Chopin

Aside from the competition, the weeks will also feature concerts from world-leading virtuosos. Jazz violinist Regina Carter, and the chamber musicians of Black and Latinx ensemble Sphinx Virtuosi will be performing, alongside two young stars of the 2018 competition. Chloe Chua and Christian Li won joint first prize in the Geneva, and you can hear them both again this year.

And in an inspired touch, there will even be an appearance from YouTube comedy virtuosos, TwoSet Violin.

So, lots of great music to look forward to. And if you’re wanting to get in the mood for some jaw-dropping violin talent, here’s 11-year-old Chloe on stage in the Gala concert three years ago:

Chloe Menuhin

How can I watch the Menuhin Competition 2021?

You can watch all events on the Menuhin Competition’s website and the competition’s YouTube Channel.

We’ll be bringing you highlights here at and on our Facebook Page.

The Jury at Richmond 2021 has recently announced the Junoir semi-finalists and Senior semi-finalists.

Here's a look at the extraordinary standard of those early rounds: Paganini from semi-finalist Serin Park.

Serin Park - Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021, Senior First Rounds

How hard is it to put on a virtual competition?

Ahead of all the string-filled happenings, Classic FM caught up with Menuhin Competition Artistic Director, Gordon Back, and President and Professor of Music at the University of Richmond, Ronald A. Crutcher.

Of the virtual competition, Crutcher said: “It’s worked brilliantly, but there have been many challenges.”

Gordon Back and Ronald A. Crutcher
Gordon Back and Ronald A. Crutcher. Picture: Menuhin Competition / University of Richmond

A virtual event, Crutcher added, enables the competition to reach and engage many more people, and offers the participants “an amazing thing for their own growth and development”.

Back underlined how all the young performers are incredibly adaptable. “Video and digital feel like a natural way of sharing and communicating for them, so they are very comfortable with it.“

“The kids are doing incredibly well. I think the level is the highest-ever,” the Artistic Director said.

Dominion Energy Center Carpenter Theater, Richmond, Virginia.
Dominion Energy Center Carpenter Theater, Richmond, Virginia. Picture: James Loving

Crutcher emphasised that after a year of virtual meetings, concerts and events, he’s excited about the way the competition can showcase Richmond’s arts and music scene. “We want to try as much as possible to showcase the city of Richmond and its arts.”

Richmond boasts a thriving culture scene, with its outstanding symphony orchestra, the University’s music school, a stunning Spanish Baroque concert hall (pictured above), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and it seems, an incredibly supportive creative community.

Pianist Back has played chamber music with cellist Crutcher over many decades. But even though there are lots of exciting possibilities in virtual events, the pianist says he is looking forward to the time when the magic of live music can return.

“When we get back to some sort of normality, there’s going to be an explosion of the love of performing with an audience.”

Watch The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 on their website and YouTube Channel.