I have, as usual, been following the Unisa International Competition. This year it was the 1st Unisa International Flute and Clarinet Competition. The final round performances took place on Friday 14 February and Saturday 15 February 2014 at the ZK Matthews Hall at Unisa’s main campus.
Having heard some of the earlier rounds I was not at all surprised to see the winners announced as Matvey Demin from Russia as the first prize winner (flute) and Sang Yoon Kim from the Republic of Korea as the first prize winner (clarinet). Both played magnificent concerto rounds. Matvey Demin played Jacques Ibert’s Flute Concerto while Sang Yoon Kim stole the evening with his performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K622. They were accompanied by the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the British conductor, Julian Clayton.
Each of them received R200 000. Apart from the main prizes, sponsored by Unisa, several special prizes were awarded. Matvey received a further R22 500 in special prizes for the best South African flute piece in round 1, the best sonata in round 2 and the best third round recital and Sang Yoon R6 750 for the best South African clarinet piece in round 1 and the special prize for a baroque clarinet piece in round 1.
Second prize was awarded to Valentin Uryupin (Russia, clarinet), third prize to Lilja Steininger (Germany, flute), fourth prize to Angelo Montanaro (Italy, clarinet) and fifth prize to Alexey Morozov (Russia, flute).
During the prize giving ceremony the Artistic Director of the competition, Prof Karendra Devroop announced that the two first prize winners will be invited to perform in Venezuela. This was organised by Prof Valdemar Rodríguez who served on the panel of adjudicators.
A special prize were awarded to Xue Su (China, flute) for the most promising semi-finalist who did not go through to the final round, as voted for by the shadow jury. The shadow jury is a programme established to train young South African musicians in critical listening skills and to prepare them for positions such as music examiners and competition judges at every level.
One of the adjudicators, Professor Susan Milan from England, thanked the organisers for the “superb organisation and clear, impeccably fair rules” for the adjudicators as well as Unisa’s continued support for an event of this extremely high calibre.
The first prize winners will be invited back to South Africa for a concert tour next year. I am looking forward to hearing them again.