Cooper International Competition for Violin Returns July 15-21

June 16, 2017

Erich Burnett

A violin soloist performs with an orchestra
Eighteen-year-old Gallia Kastner of Illinois (pictured) shared top honors with 15-year-old Belle Ting of Taiwan in the 2015 Cooper International Competition.
Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

The world’s most talented young musicians make their way to Oberlin in July for the 2017 Cooper International Competition for Violin.

Now in its eighth year, the Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition welcomes 24 violinists hailing from eight countries and eight U.S. states to Oberlin for a week of performances that culminate in the Concerto Finals at Cleveland’s Severance Hall on Friday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. There, three finalists will perform complete concertos with The Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Jahja Ling.

On the line is a grand prize of $20,000, in addition to second and third prizes of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. Each finalist’s prize package also includes a full four-year tuition scholarship to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

The excitement begins Saturday, July 15, on the beautiful Oberlin campus, with five days of free performances in Warner Concert Hall presented by violinists ranging in age from 14 to 18. Semifinal action takes place on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (July 15, 16, and 17), followed by a Concerto Round on Tuesday, July 18. The Recital Finals—in which the remaining field of six participants will be reduced to three—are slated for Wednesday evening, July 19.

In addition to the top prizes, the competition awards $1,500 to each of the fourth- through sixth-place finishers and also grants an Audience Prize of $500. These are presented at the conclusion of the Recital Final round on July 19. An Honors Concert, featuring violinists who delivered the most moving performances during the week, will be held in Oberlin Thursday, July 20.

The total purse of $40,000 represents the highest-valued prize package of any competition for this age group.

The 2017 Cooper Competition field includes violinists from the United States, China, Sweden, Taiwan, Norway, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. Each participant was competitively selected through a live audition or video-recorded submission.

The 2017 Cooper jury consists of esteemed violinists from the Oberlin Conservatory faculty and acclaimed performer-pedagogues from throughout the world. Among them are faculty members Gregory Fulkerson, David Bowlin, Marilyn McDonald, Milan Vitek, and Sibbi Bernhardsson; distinguished guest judges include Chenxing Huang, Haik Kazazyan, Mark Messenger, Naoko Tanaka, and Jan Mark Sloman. All 10 jury members will lead public master classes in Oberlin's Kulas Recital Hall Tuesday through Friday, July 18 to 21. The complete schedule is available online at the Cooper Competition website.

All Oberlin performances are free and open to the public; details about each round and master classes can be found at the official Cooper Competition website, and updates on the action will be posted at

The Recital Finals at 7 p.m. on July 19 in Oberlin and the Concerto Finals at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 21, at Severance Hall will be broadcast live by WCLV 104.9 FM, Cleveland’s classical music station.

“Since its founding, the Cooper Competition has been synonymous with outstanding performances from the world’s most talented young musicians,” says Oberlin Dean of the Conservatory Andrea Kalyn. “We are proud to reward their artistry with one of the most lucrative prize packages of any international youth competition anywhere, and we are forever grateful to Thomas and Evon Cooper and The Cleveland Orchestra for their enthusiastic support every step of the way.”

TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW: All performances at Oberlin are free. Tickets for the July 21 Concerto Finals at Severance Hall range from $15-$25, and students under age 18 are admitted free with a paying adult. Student Advantage Tickets for $15 are also available with a school ID. More information can be found at the Cleveland Orchestra website or by calling 800-686-1141.

ABOUT THE COOPER COMPETITION: Founded in 2010, the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition is dedicated to presenting an important international competitive opportunity to highly accomplished 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. Past winners include pianist George Li and violinist Sirena Huang, both of whom have accumulated numerous international competition prizes and cultivated outstanding performance careers.

ABOUT OBERLIN AND THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA: The relationship between Oberlin College and The Cleveland Orchestra dates back nearly a century, beginning with John Long Severance, an 1885 Oberlin graduate, flutist, and principal benefactor of Severance Hall, home of The Cleveland Orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra first performed in Oberlin in 1919, six months after its founding. The orchestra has returned to Oberlin each season since, giving more than 240 performances on campus to date. For more information on The Cleveland Orchestra, please visit




Competition Schedule

Events July 15-20 are free and are held in Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, accessible via the South Professor Street (west) entrance. Free parking is adjacent to 45 South Professor Street. All competition performances July 15-20 are streamed live on Oberlin's website.


Semifinals (6 sessions)

Saturday, July 15        1:30-4:40 p.m. and 7-10 p.m.

Sunday, July 16          1:30-4:40 p.m.  and 7-10 p.m.

Monday, July 17         1:30-4:40 p.m.  and 7-10 p.m.


Concerto Round (2 sessions)

Tuesday, July 18         1:30-4:30 p.m.  and 7-10 p.m.


Recital Finals

Wednesday, July 19    7-10 p.m.

Broadcast live on WCLV 104.9 FM


Honors Recital

Thursday, July 20      7-9 p.m.


Concerto Finals with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland

Friday, July 21, 7:30 p.m.

Broadcast live on WCLV 104.9 FM

Tickets: 216-231-1111 or toll free at 800-686-1141

Online: The Cleveland Orchestra Box Office at



All master classes held in Kulas Recital Hall.


Tuesday, July 18

9 a.m. David Bowlin

10:45 a.m. Marilyn McDonald


Wednesday, July 19

9 a.m. Gregory Fulkerson

10:45 a.m. Chenxing Huang

1:30 p.m. Jan Mark Sloman


Thursday, July 20

10 a.m. Mark Messenger

1:30 p.m. Haik Kazazyan

3:15 p.m. Naoko Tanaka


Friday, July 21

10 a.m. Sibbi Bernhardsson

1:30 p.m. Milan Vitek



The 8 male and 16 female violinists range in age from 14 to 18. They represent 8 countries and 8 U.S states.


Zachary Brandon, 18, U.S.A.

Maya Anjali Buchanan, 17, U.S.A

Dorson Chang, 16, TAIWAN

Qing Yu Chen, 17, U.S.A.

Bo Cui, 16, CHINA

Johan Dalene, 16, SWEDEN

Lingyu Dong, 16, CHINA

Oda Holt Günther, 18, NORWAY

Kejun Guo, 18, CHINA

Joseph Hsia, 16, U.S.A.

Chaowen Luo, 16, CHINA

Woojin Lyu, 18, SOUTH KOREA

Mai Matsumoto, 16, JAPAN

Coco Mi, 16, U.S.A.

Christina Jihee Nam, 14, U.S.A.

Kenta Nomura, 17, JAPAN

Kiarra Saito-Beckman, 18, U.S.A.

Goeun Melody Sim, 18, U.S.A.

Jonna Simonsson, 16, SWEDEN

Adrian Steele, 17, U.S.A.

Jessie Tai, 18, TAIWAN

Alexandra Woroniecka, 15, U.S.A.

Megan Yao, 17, TAIWAN

Yebin Yoo, 17, AUSTRALIA




The 10 members of the jury are acclaimed performers and pedagogues. They hail from seven countries and represent prominent music faculties around the world.


Gregory Fulkerson (U.S.A.), Oberlin Conservatory faculty

David Bowlin (U.S.A.), Oberlin Conservatory faculty

Marilyn McDonald (U.S.A.), Oberlin Conservatory faculty

Jan Mark Sloman (U.S.A.), Cleveland Institute of Music faculty

Sibbi Bernhardsson (Iceland), Oberlin Conservatory faculty

Chenxing Huang (China), Shanghai Conservatory faculty

Haik Kazazyan (Armenia), Moscow Conservatory faculty

Mark Messenger (U.K.), Royal College of Music faculty

Naoko Tanaka (Japan), The Juilliard School faculty

Milan Vitek (Czech Republic), Oberlin Conservatory faculty


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