VC Artist Seiji Okamoto Awarded 1st Prize at ARD Violin Comp
27-year-old Japanese violinist, VC Artist Seiji Okamoto, was awarded first prize at the 2021 ARD International Violin Competition, in Munich, Germany
A graduate of the Tokyo University of the Arts and the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” Berlin, Seiji is currently a Professional Studies Program student of Antje Weithaas at the Kronberg Academy.
He is a former major prize winner at the J. S. Bach and Wieniawski International Violin Competitions — and finalist at the 2017 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Copetition.
Seiji will receive €10,000 and will also be offered a number of important debut performances and recording opportunities to help bolster the start of his career.
Second and third prizes were awarded to 28-year-old Dmitry Smirnov from Russia and 29-year-old Alexandra Tirsu from Moldova/Romania, respectively.
This year's audience prize was awarded to Alexandra Tirsu, and this year's prize for the best performance of the newly-commissioned piece was presented to Seiji Okomoto.
“We have had a pandemic for 18 months. We must now set an example, give the young musicians a chance to return to musical life, to present themselves again to the audience, to meet, to compare, to find a goal that is worth working hard for," Competition Director Elisabeth Kozik told The Violin Channel.
"We all need to see and to believe that life goes on now," she said.
This year's violin category jury comprised Mihaela Martin (President), Frank-Michael Erben, Liza Ferschtman, Philippe Graffin, Rachel Podger, John Storgårds, and Hanna Weinmeister.
Hosted annually since 1952, the 2021 competition categories were violin, voice, horn, and piano duo.
First prize in this year’s new Piano Duo category was awarded to the Geister Duo.
First prize in this year’s French Horn and Voice category were awarded to Swiss hornist Pascal Deuber and Russian singer Anastasiya Taratorkina.
The candidates were chosen from 57 international violinists, who were accepted into the competition's first round and then assessed by this year's jury via the internet.
Due to the COVID-situation, the application and first round stages of this year's competition were held online. The second round, semi-final and final rounds were in-person.
Previous ARD Competition category first prize winners include Yuri Bashmet, Christian Tetzlaff, Antoine Tamestit, Natalia Gutman, Christoph Eschenbach, Nobuko Imai, Jessye Norman, and Mitsuko Uchida — all springboarding on to major international careers.