18-year-old Spanish violinist María Dueñas takes top honours at the Menuhin Competition 2021

24 May 2021, 15:04

María Dueñas
María Dueñas. Picture: Pablo Rodríguez OSG

By Kyle Macdonald

María Dueñas was named Senior 1st Prizewinner, and Keila Wakao awarded the Junior 1st Prize, as dozens of young players ‘rise to the challenges’ of a virtual competition.

It’s the prestigious competition that helped launch the careers of violin stars like Ray Chen, Julia Fischer, Christian Li, Lara St. John and many more. Due to COVID-19 disruption, this year’s Menuhin Competition was held virtually, but that didn’t impact the quality of virtuoso talent on display, nor the interest, with the rounds drawing hundreds of thousands of online views from around the world.

Top honours were announced over the weekend after the competition finals.

Read more: The world’s finest young violinists compete in a virtual Menuhin Competition for 2021 >

Of the 43 competitors, 18-year-old Spanish violinist María Dueñas was named the Senior 1st Prizewinner, and 15-year-old Japanese-American prodigy Keila Wakao took home the Junior 1st Prize.

Watch María’s award-winning performance in the finals below:

In her Junior final, Keila played music by Bloch, Wieniawski and a new commission from the competition, ‘Bound Away’ by American composer Mason Bates.

Artistic director Gordon Back said: “The way they have risen to the challenges posed by an online competition has been truly inspiring and I want to thank them, their parents, teachers and supporters for all the effort that has gone into their participation.

“The jury expressed their admiration of the artistry of these young performers, and all confirmed how difficult it was to choose our two first prizewinners from such great performances. I am so proud that Keila Wakao and María Dueñas will represent the Menuhin Competition as their careers develop.”

The event was hosted in Richmond, Virginia (US) and came to a close with a gala concert, featuring the two young first-prize winners and the Richmond Symphony.

Full list of prizewinners at the Menuhin Competition 2021

Senior Prizewinners:

Simon Zhu, 20, won 2nd Prize, Joint Mozart Prize, and the EMCY Prize; he is from Germany and studies at Julius-Stern-Institut – Universität der Künste in Berlin.

Hana Chang, 18, won 3rd Prize and Joint Mozart Prize; she lives in Philadelphia, studies at the Curtis Institute and has roots in Singapore, Japan and the US.

Karisa Chiu, 21, won 4th Prize and Joint Composer Award; she is from Illinois and studies at the Curtis Institute.

Emily Shehi, 22, won Joint Composer Award; she lives in Philadelphia and studies at the Curtis Institute.

Junior Prizewinners:

Edward Walton, 15, won 2nd Prize; he is from Australia and studies with Dr. Robin Wilson, Head of Violin at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne.

Hannah Wan Ching Tam, 15, won 3rd Prize; she is from Hong Kong, China, and studies with Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute of Music. 

Kento Hong, 14, won 4th Prize; he studies at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division with Dr. Ann Setzer. He lives in New York and has roots in the U.S., Japan and Taiwan. 

Boha Moon, 15, won 5th Prize; she is from South Korea and studied at the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts with Professor Nam-Yun Kim until her recent move to Prague, where she now studies with Josef Špaček.