6th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition concludes
The 6th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition has concluded, the prizes have been awarded.Of the eight piano trios and eight string quartets competing, the Rhodes, Rafale and Paul Klee Trios and the Amaryllis, Attacca and Kelemen Quartets were selected for the finals. While the Monash University Grand Prize was awarded to the Amaryllis Quartett, the Musica Viva Australia Prize of a national tour in a future season was awarded to the Kelemen Kvartett. First prize in the Piano Trio section was awarded to Trio Rafale. The full list of prizes can be seen here. The Amaryllis Quartett make their Sydney debut tomorrow, performing Haydn and Ravel in Musica Viva’s Sydney Coffee Concert series.
Music competitions tend to generate debate – whether and how performances should be evaluated and compared.
“Competition is of course largely anathema to most forms of the arts,” writes Martin Ball in the Sydney Morning Herald, “for unlike sport where there are distances and times to be measured, and scores to be tallied, in the arts there are few quantifiable categories… There are degrees of competence, however, and in the case of chamber music it is possible to compare players’ technical facility or the ability to play as an organic ensemble. But the great joy of this event for local audiences is not about seeing their team win, but rather barracking for the music itself. It may sound like a cliche, but art is the winner.”
There is the question of whether winning an award really means anything.
“[W]hen you pick up a CD of the late lamented Beaux Arts Trio, do you check the liner, whether they won any competitions?” asks blogger John of Oz. “Better put it back on the rack. I suspect they never did. Amadeus Quartet? Guarneri Quartet? I think not. They were just bloody good. No argument. Trouble is we the audiences, the listeners, no longer have the courage of our convictions. Got to be led by the nose. No worries: they won the West Woopwoop competition in 2001. Must be good, musn’t they?”And then there is the question of personal taste, and whether it is possible to be truly objective when judging art and performance. Grand Prize winners the Amaryllis Quartett admit in an interview in the Age “Everyone who is here is already very good so in the end it’s just a question of what the jury liked more.” But for many young musicians, competitions are still a major motivator, a reason to strive harder, and often the impetus for expanding their repertoire, due to the varying entry requirements of competition. Say the winners of the Piano Trio section, the Trio Rafale, “We’re really happy. You can never really know in a competition and we worked really hard … the whole preparation process was really important for us and I think we made a lot of progress as a group.”
According to Carl Vine, “The Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition has become a major player in the support network for live chamber music performance that spans the globe. The competition has brought to our attention many young and emerging ensembles that might have otherwise remained unnoticed. The Musica Viva Prize enables us to offer the best of these groups indispensable performance opportunities in Australia, as well as establishing powerful connections with them that continue to stretch well into the future.”
MICMC concerts can still be heard online at ABC Classic FM.