Cooper Competition for Violin Returns to Oberlin in August 2022

Revised format for violin offers enhanced prize packages, financial support for all competition participants.

February 14, 2022

Erich Burnett

Thomas and Evon Cooper Competition at Oberlin.

The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, which brings some of the world’s most talented young musicians to the campus of Oberlin College and Conservatory every summer, returns in 2022 with a revised format, financial support for all participants—and a prize package larger than any in the competition’s 13-year history.

The 2022 Cooper Competition for Violin will take place from August 15 through 19, and is open to outstanding violinists from around the world between the ages of 13 and 18.

As in past years, the competition’s prize package totals $40,000 in cash awards—including a $20,000 first prize—and all three Concerto Finalists will be awarded full four-year tuition scholarships to Oberlin Conservatory, pending admission.

For the first time, lodging and meals for each participant will be provided by the competition at no charge, and eligible travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Also for the first time, the competition’s first-prize winner will earn a host of additional prizes that have never previously been awarded, including:

• A two-year partnership with MKI Artists that will include up to 10 concerto or recital engagements throughout the United States.

• Exclusive rights for the world premiere and subsequent performances of a new six-minute work for violin and orchestra composed by Jeff Scott for a period of two years.

• Use of a rare Italian violin loaned by Jonathan Solars Fine Violins of New York for a period of two years. Solars is a 2003 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory.

Daily competitive rounds begin on Monday, August 15, and build toward the Concerto Finals on Friday, August 19, in which three finalists each perform a complete concerto with the Canton Symphony Orchestra and their music director Gerhardt Zimmermann on the stage of Oberlin’s Warner Concert Hall.

An Honors Concert, celebrating outstanding performances from the competition’s first three days, will take place on Thursday, August 18.

All rounds of the competition and the Honors Concert will be livestreamed to a global audience via Oberlin.edu/livestream. The Cooper Competition's media partner, The Violin Channel, will livestream the Recital Finals (Round 2) on August 17 and the Concerto Finals on August 19.

“It is a great thrill for all of us at Oberlin to welcome phenomenal young violinists back to campus this summer, and we are especially pleased to offer a prize package that surpasses any in the competition’s history,” says Sibbi Bernhardsson, professor of violin at Oberlin and director of the competition.

“The Cooper Competition’s new partnerships with MKI Artists, Jonathan Solars, and composer Jeff Scott represent three outstanding opportunities in the career of any young musician, and we are honored to offer them this year.”

violinist Sirena Huang with Cleveland Orchestra.
(photo by Roger Mastroianni)

First-prize laureates of the Cooper Competition for violin include Sirena Huang (2011, pictured), Kyumin Park and William Wei (tie, 2013), Gallia Kastner and Belle Ting (tie, 2015), Johan Dalene (2017), and Eric Charles Chen (2019).

The 2020 and 2021 Cooper Competitions were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 Cooper Competition field will be limited to a maximum of 20 participants, selected from applicants worldwide. Applications are due May 1.

The competition will be adjudicated by a jury that includes Oberlin Conservatory violin faculty and other internationally recognized teacher-performers:

Sibbi Bernhardsson.
Sibbi Bernhardsson,
director and jury chair

Sibbi Bernhardsson, Oberlin Conservatory violin professor and Cooper Competition director

Philip Setzer, founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, professor of violin and chamber music at Stony Brook University, and visiting faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music

Xie Nan, soloist, recording artist, and professor and chair of the violin department at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China

• Danielle Belen, associate professor of violin at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance

John Zion, managing director of MKI Artists and founder of OurConcerts.live

Official collaborative pianists for the 2022 competition are Scott Cuellar, HyunSoo Kim, and Tatiana Lokhina.

For complete details, please visit the Cooper Competition page at Oberlin.edu.

ABOUT THE COOPER COMPETITION: Founded in 2010, the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition is dedicated to presenting an important international competitive opportunity to outstanding young musicians. It is made possible through the generosity of Thomas Cooper, a 1978 graduate of Oberlin College, and his wife, pianist Evon Cooper. The Cooper Competition alternates annually between piano and violin and is open to participants between the ages of 13 and 18.

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