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Oberlin Violinist Julia Sakharova Wins Koussevitzky Competition

By Marci Janas ’91




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Violin performance major Julia Sakharova ’03 has won first prize in the Musicians Club of New York’s 47th Olga Koussevitzky Competition for Strings, held at the National Arts Club in New York City April 4, 5, and 8. She brought home $2,500 and instructions to leave room on her calendar for a New York recital in fall 2002.

Sakharova, who is 22 years old and a native of Zheleznovodsk, Russia, studies with Milan Vitek, professor of violin. She is concertmaster of the Oberlin Orchestra and a member of the Erato Quartet, which won the 2001 Coleman-Barstow Award for Strings.

"Sakharova gave a wonderful performance," says Virginia Benz Anderer, chairman of the Koussevitzky Competition. "The judges were unanimous in their decision, which took about 15 seconds to make."

Twenty-two string musicians began the competition; by the final round seven remained. The judges for the final round were violinists Anahid Ajemian, Artur Shtilman, and Gerald Tarack and cellist Kermit Moore. Here is a sampling of their comments: "Real talent . . ., first-class violinist . . ., very good feeling of style and composition . . ., strong artistical presence on stage . . . , first rate in all aspects . . . , she has it all."

"I am in absolute agreement with the judges’ comments," says Vitek. "Julia possesses a profound musicianship, a wonderful stage presence, and she certainly conveys to the audience what music really means."

For the first round and in the finals, Sakharova performed the same program: the Adagio from J.S. Bach’s Sonata in G-minor, No. 1; Mozart’s Sonata in G-Major, K. 301; the first movement from Strauss’ Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 18; and Eugene Ysaÿe’s Sonata for Violin Solo, Op. 27, No. 6. Pianist Evan Solomon of New York City was her accompanist.

Olga Koussevitzky was the second wife of famed conductor Serge Koussevitzky (1874–1951). A past president of the Musicians Club of New York, she endowed the competition, which was first held in 1955 and which features different instruments from year to year. The next Olga Koussevitzky Competition, for winds, takes place in spring 2003. The competition will feature piano in 2004, voice in 2005, and strings again in 2006.

Past winners of the Olga Koussevitzky Competition include violist Irene Breslau; violinist Charles Castleman; violinist Laura Hamilton (associate concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra); cellist Chui-Yee Lee; violist Paul Neubauer; soprano Young Ok Shin; and cellist Fred Slatkin (brother of conductor Leonard Slatkin).



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