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Belgian Stéphanie Huang rehearsing for cello final of Queen Elisabeth Competition

14:03 24/05/2022

Following her selection for the final of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition, Belgium’s sole candidate Stéphanie Huang is preparing to perform on 31 May at Bozar in Brussels.

The 26-year-old from Hainaut will play an unpublished work by Jörg Widmann and Dvořák’s Concerto no 2 in B minor, considered one of the finest pieces ever written for cello.

She is one of 12 young musicians selected for the final. They include four Koreans (Taeguk Mun, Hayoung Choi, Woochan Jeong and Sul Yoon) and one cellist each from China (Yibai Chen), Serbia (Petar Pejcic), Ukraine (Oleksiy Shadrin), Estonia (Marcel Johannes Kits), Austria (Jeremias Fliedl), Canada (Bryan Cheng) and Switzerland (Samuel Niederhauser). Three of the 12 musicians are women.

The final will take place from 30 May until 4 June. Each evening, two finalists will perform with the Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Stéphane Denève. As well as performing a concerto of their own choice, they will play Widmann’s work, which has been specially written for this year’s competition. The candidates have one week to rehearse it during a retreat at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel (QEMC) in Waterloo.

After the performance of the last finalist on 4 June, the announcement of the ranking of the laureates is expected around midnight. The performances are broadcast live on public television and radio, Proximus and on the competition’s website.

Praise for Huang’s performance

Since the first round of the competition, Huang, who visibly enjoys performing, has been praised for her flawless playing and her warm sound.

Since September 2020, the award-winning musician has been an artist in residence at the QEMC, where she is taught by Gary Hoffman.

Huang was taught the cello by her mother at a young age. Her older sister, Sylvia Huang, reached the final of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for violin in 2019 and was the recipient of the audience award.

Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth Competition is considered one of the top classical music contests in the world as well as one of the most demanding. It was launched in 1937 to realise the dream of Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe, court composer to Queen Elisabeth and her late husband, Albert I. 

Since the 1950s, the competition rotated among piano, violin and composition. In 1988, singers were admitted, and the first cello competition was launched in 2017, the year of its 80th anniversary.

Written by Sarah Crew