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Fedina Zhou on the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition

Tune in on August 26-28, 2022, at 7 PM ET for an online concert series showcasing the 6 finalists from the 2020 competition


Due to COVID-19 and the challenges of global travel, instead of competing live in Shanghai, the six finalists will present their final concerto performances online — to be streamed on The Violin Channel.

Rather than compete for ranking, the six competitors — (Rino Yoshimoto (Japan), Thomas Lefort (France), Ruifeng Lin (China), Felicitas Schiffner (Germany), Angela Sin Ying Chan (Hong Kong, China), and Shannon Lee (United States) — will be awarded a certificate for entering the final round of the 2020 SISIVC, as well as a scholarship of $20,000 USD each for their future education and career development.

Fedina Zhou is the Executive President of the SISIVC Organization Committee and President of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. She filled us in on this year's changes and mission.


Tell us about the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition. When was it founded and what was its original mission?

The Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition, the first world-class violin competition in Shanghai, was launched in 2015 in celebration of distinguished violinist Isaac Stern’s forty-year musical friendship with China. Our goal has always been to unite people with the power of music and to encourage young artists of the highest caliber to pursue their dreams and launch their professional careers by providing them with professional opportunities including performance contracts, concert tours, album recording, and introductions to world-class music agencies.


Your 2020 competition was postponed several times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How have you adapted to the unfortunate situation?

The pandemic resulted in the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals unfortunately being postponed for one year and taking place online in 2021. We were hopeful that we’d be able to host the finals in-person this year, but due to the continued health crisis, we’ve made the decision to move forward with a reimagined online series of tribute concerts this month instead of the traditional competition.


How was the decision made to host alternative laureate tribute concerts online instead?

It was a difficult decision, but it is an imaginative one that was made unanimously by the jury committee and candidates. Our ultimate goal in this competition is not ranking, but the discovery and support of musicians. Hosting these tribute concerts is the best way for us to usher these six candidates into the next chapter of their careers during the current health crisis.


What will each 2020 finalist perform? And what will each of the performers receive?

All six candidates – Rino Yoshimoto (Japan), Thomas Lefort (France), Ruifeng Lin
(China), Felicitas Schiffner (Germany), Angela Sin Ying Chan (Hong Kong, China), and Shannon Lee (United States) – will be awarded a certificate for entering the final round of the 2020 SISIVC, as well as a scholarship of 20,000 USD for their future education and career development.

Each of the candidates will perform two concerti in the final round: a concerto of their choice plus ‘Night Tour’ by Zhou Tian, a piece commissioned by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) for SISIVC. Zhou Tian is the first Chinese musician to be nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Classical Composition and it’s an honor to prominently feature his music.


Will your jury members still assess these online concerts?

Yes! The jury members will provide critical feedback to the candidates by sharing detailed notes. In this way, they will act more like mentors in this context rather than competition jury members. The difficulties posed by the pandemic have resulted in a completely different format this year, so the role of the jury has naturally shifted as well.


Why was it so important to the competition to continue and press forward, despite the multiple years of disruptions?

Each of our candidates needs support now more than ever in the next chapter of their careers. It was crucial to find a way to continue our mission in fostering this next generation of esteemed violinists and to connect people through the power of music, even if the path forward wasn’t immediately clear or simple.


What is your hope for the future with the competition?

When public health allows, we look forward to returning to our in-person model of the competition! The city of Shanghai is such an important part of the work that we do, and it is a great pleasure to bring competitors from all around the world to the city for each in-person competition.



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