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American Stella Chen wins Queen Elisabeth Competition for violin

16:44 28/05/2019

The American violinist Stella Chen (pictured) has won the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, one of the most challenging and prestigious classic music contests in the world. The only Belgian finalist, Sylvia Huang, did not place in the top six laureates named.

Chen, 26, studied at the Juilliard School in New York under the virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. She has also won prizes at the Yehudi Menuhin Competition and the Tibor Varga Competition. She has performed with many orchestras, including the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, the Bach Society Orchestra and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.

Despite her impressive CV, Chen had not been tipped by experts to win the competition. The jury statement noted Chen’s “beautiful and honest interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, and her expressive qualities”.

There were 71 candidates chosen this year for the first round, who were eventually whittled down to 12 for the final round. Among the final 12 was the competition’s only Belgian contestant, Sylvia Huang. Six laureates are named after the final performances, but Huang had to settle for being in the bottom six, who are not ranked.

Canadian violinist Timothy Chooi was named second in the competition, and Stephen Kim of the US was third. A laureates concerts for the top three is sold out in Brussels, but they are also touring to cities around the country. Chen will also offer additional performances next month in Brussels and in Hasselt. There is also a concert featuring the fourth, fifth and sixth laureates.

The Queen Elisabeth Competition, open to musicians aged 18 to 30, launched in 1937 under the patronage of the wife of Albert I. It is one of the most prestigious music contests in the world. It rotates between voice, composition, piano, violin and cello. Next year’s competition will feature pianists.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw