Belle Ting of Taipei, Taiwan, and Gallia Kastner of Arlington Heights, Illinois, were named co-champions of the 2015 Cooper International Competition following the Concerto Finals held Friday night at Severance Hall in Cleveland.
Part of an initial field of 21 superb violinists from around the world, Ting, 15, and Kastner, 18, weathered five consecutive days of competition over the past week to earn the right to perform in the Concerto Finals with the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Jahja Ling. This year marked Kastner's third trip to the Cooper Competition, following appearances in 2011 and 2013.
Ting opened the evening with Alexander Glazunov's Violin Concerto in A Minor, Opus 82. Kastner ended it with Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77. Each earned a grand prize of $10,000.
Fifteen-year-old Joshua Brown of Gurnee, Illinois, earned second prize for his performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77.
All three finalists earned full-tuition scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory, valued at nearly $200,000 each.
The jury, made up of Oberlin Conservatory faculty Gregory Fulkerson and David Bowlin, as well as internationally renowned performers and pedagogues Margaret Pressley, Peter Herresthal, Dora Schwarzberg, and Tong Weidong, deliberated for nearly 30 minutes before revealing its decision.
The tie for first place is the second in the competition's six-year history. In 2013, violinists Kyumin Park of South Korea and William Ching-Yi Wei of Taiwan shared top honors. Kastner is the first top-prize winner to hail from the United States since pianist George Li won the inaugural Cooper Competition in 2010.
The Cooper Competition is presented each July by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Orchestra, and alternates each year between piano and violin. It is named in honor of Thomas Cooper, a 1977 graduate of Oberlin College, and his wife, Evon.
Friday's performance was broadcast live by the Cooper Competition's media partner, WCLV 104.9 FM.
The Cooper International Competition returns to piano in 2016.
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