It is no secret that music, and musical competitions, can profoundly shape people's lives.
“In Belgium, people watch TV and opine on every public issue, but in May, they turn their focus to another big event- the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition,” said Michel- Etienne Van Neste, the secretary- general of the competition.
But when it comes to holding competitions that produce artists who stir listeners' souls, Taiwan is sadly lagging behind much of the developed world.
“We have planned an international music competition but without much success,” admitted Council for Cultural Affairs Chairman Chen Chi- nan (陳其南) yesterday.
So the council decided to invite Van Neste and professor Mikhail Kopelman- two prominent members of the jury for the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition- to Taiwan to share their experience in running a successful music competition and cultivating talented musicians.
Van Neste will hold two seminars today and tomorrow on those subjects, while Kopelman will give a series of violin lessons over the next three days, as the duo impart their passion for music to local audiences.
“Conversations with these two masters are the most direct and important chances to absorb valuable experience on holding music competitions,” the CCA's Chen said yesterday in introducing the two visitors.
Kopelman, who teaches violin at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music, was appointed first violin of the Borodin String Quartet in 1976, and played with the ensemble for two decades.
The council's interest in holding international music competitions stems from their growing significance in setting the direction of musical performance and launching to prominence young musicians, as well as having a major impact on their lives.
“This competition was a turning point in my life,” recalled Hu Nai- yuan from Taiwan, the 1985 winner for violin the Queen Elisabeth Competition. “When flying to Belgium, I was a poor person, having just graduated from college. I could only afford the cheapest ticket. But when I flew back to Taiwan as a winner, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted to switch to first class as a VIP.”
Susan Shu- Cheng Lin, the director of the Graduate Institute of Performing Arts at National Taiwan Normal University and host of the seminar to be held there, is a strong backer of music competitions.
“The best way to inspire talented musicians is giving them a stage to compete on, so they can learn from each other,” Lin said.
The first symposium held by Van Neste will be in Tainan at Tainan Women's College of Arts & Technology today at 3 p.m. The other session will be in Taipei at National Taiwan Normal University tomorrow at 2 p.m. Admission is free.
From December 12 to 14, Kopelman will hold six violin master classes in the multimedia room of National Theatre Concert Hall. The entry fee is NT$ 1,000 for three days and for one day is NT$ 500.
Caption1: Michel- Etienne Van Neste (from left), Mr. Mignot (representative of Belgium in Taiwan), Chen Chi- nan (陳其南) and Mikhail Kopelman.