Young Australian violinist Edward Walton has won a place in the semi-finals of the prestigious Menuhin Competition, currently being held in Richmond, Virginia in the US but like many events worldwide this year it is pivoting to online.

The competition, co-hosted by the City of Richmond, Richmond Symphony, University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and media channel VPM, was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to the global pandemic. The young hopefuls have now been given the chance to perform for the distinguished international jury via video recital.

Edward Walton. Photograph supplied

“I was over the moon when I first found out I’d been selected for the Richmond 2021 Menuhin Competition,” Walton told Limelight. “Then of course, it was delayed a year, but if anything, it made me appreciate the whole experience even more, and also gave me time to develop further as a musician. Being selected to compete in the semi-finals is really a dream come true.”

One of the upsides of the health crisis is making the entire competition accessible to a virtual global audience. The initial rounds are already up online, while the semi-finals and finals, as well a host of complementary events, are scheduled to be streamed online 14–23 May.

“We look forward to thousands of viewers from around the world joining us online and in spirit to celebrate extraordinary violin performances by talented American and international musicians and guest artists,” said Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney.

Born in 2006, Walton is no stranger to success having appeared as a soloist with orchestras in Australia and overseas and given recitals throughout Europe. In 2019 he won First Prize – and the audience prize – in the Il Piccolo Violin Magico Competition in Italy as well as the US Medallion International Concerto Competition, the London Grand Prize Virtuoso Competition and the Jeunes Artistes Musicals du Centre in France. He’s currently studying with Dr Robin Wilson, Head of Violin at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in Melbourne.

This year’s panel of jurors is chaired by Pamela Frank and includes Joji Hattori, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Aaron Dworkin, Alf Richard Kraggerud, Piers Lane, Valentina Peleggi, Soyoung Yoon and Angelo Xiang Yu. To earn his place in as one of the 10 junior competitors in the semis (streaming on 15 May), Walton opted to play Kreisler’s charming Marche Miniature Viennoise, Mozart’s Violin Sonata in G, K. 301, Rode’s Caprice No 9 and Telemann’s Ninth Fantasia for Solo Violin in B minor.

The competition proper kicks off on 14 May with the Richmond Symphony performing a live, in-person concert that will include the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Bound Away, a short work specially commissioned for this year’s Junior finals. Selections from the concert will be streamed on 23 May as part of a Gala Presentation.

Australian audiences have an extra reason for following the competition in the shape of YouTube stars TwoSet Violin, aka cheeky Brisbane-based duo Brett Yang and Eddy Chen, who will be making a series of virtual appearances along the way. Look out too for online concerts from jazz violinist Regina Carter and young Aussie violinist Christian Li who was a joint winner of the Junior First Prize back in 2018.

The Menuhin Competition 2021 continues online

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