Top Violin and Bow Makers Honored at the 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition (第四届中国国际提琴及琴弓制作比赛)

The 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition (第四届中国国际提琴及琴弓制作比赛) was held from May 5-15, 2019 at the Central Conservatory of Music and the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing. The competition had over 400 entries from 10 countries, although most entries were from Chinese makers. 

The Competition Jury

The jury for the competition was chaired by Quan Zheng and consisted of an international panel of violin makers, bow makers, and musicians.  Violin makers of the jury were Giorgio Scolari (Italy), Haide Lin (US), Pierre Caradot (France), Shiquan Zhao (China), and Tadeusz Slodyczka (Poland).  Bow makers of the jury were Doriane Bodart (France), Ma Rong-Di (China), and Stephane Muller (France).  Musicians of the jury were Chen Yun (Violin, Singapore), Ge-Fang Yang (Violin, US), Li-Wei Qin (Cello, Australia), Na Mula (Cello, China), Siqing Lu (Violin, China), and Su Zhen (Viola, China).

Jurors and invited guests of the 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition in Beijing.

Jurors and invited guests of the 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition in Beijing.

The Competition

The judging consisted of two rounds.  In the preliminary round for instruments, the entries were evaluated and scored for workmanship, artistic structure, and acoustic quality.  The instruments were then ranked by highest to lowest scores, and the jury determined that 15 violins, 10 violas, and 11 celli would make it to the final round.  The final round instruments were again judged on workmanship/artistic quality and acoustics/tone.  The final round of tone judging was open to the public and a professional musician played excerpts on each instrument anonymously behind a curtain for the jury members to score.  After the completion of the final round, the judges met to award gold, silver, and bronze medals in the categories of violin, viola, cello, as well as, violin bow, viola bow, cello bow.  The gold medal instruments were purchased by the organizing committee of the competition, with the gold medal violin and viola being purchased for 120,000 Yuan, which equates to approximately US $17,000, and the gold medal cello being purchased for 200,000 Yuan, or approximately US $29,000.

Haide Lin, the American judge at the competition, who himself has won a silver medal for cello and 14 certificates of merit at VSA competitions from 1986 - 2018, noted that the workmanship of the final instruments at the competition was excellent and said that the judges could almost not find any workmanship mistakes with the top four violins and violas. However, he noted that the top instruments in the competition all carried a consistent style that he characterized as the “northern China school style” and that he believes that these violinmakers will produce even better results when they further study more European instruments, especially the old master Italian instruments, to create a more personal style. The other judges shared similar feedback at a panel that was presented after the competition.

Winners of the Competition

The awards ceremony was held at the NCPA and the presentation of the awards was followed by a concert performed on the winning instruments by the musician jury members and others.

The gold medal violin was made by Yunhai Xu from China.  In addition to his gold medal at the China Competition, Mr. Xu won a silver medal for violin and a workmanship certificate for viola in the 2016 Violin Society of America (VSA) Competition and another silver medal for violin and 3 workmanship certificates respectively for quartet, cello and viola in the 2018 Violin Society of America Competition.  Mr. Xu was also a finalist for violin in the 1st and 3rd China Competitions and won a gold medal for cello in the 3rd China Competition.

The gold medal viola was made by Yan Wang from China.  Mr. Wang has previously won a certificate of merit for violin tone at the 2018 VSA competition.

Although most of the instrument medal winners were from China, a notable exception is the Polish maker Krzysztof Krupa, who won the gold medal for cello and a special award from the Italian Association of Violinmakers for Best Cremonese Style.  Mr. Krupa has previously won awards at many violinmaking competitions, including certificates of merit for violin and viola at the 2006 Violin Society of America Competition, a certificate of merit for violin at the 2018 Violin Society of America Competition, and an honorable mention for violin at the 2018 Triennale in Cremona.

In the bow categories, Simon Guillaume from Belgium won the gold medals for both violin and cello bow, and the gold medal for viola bow was awarded to Jianfeng Li from China.

A full list of medal winners is as follows: 

VIOLIN

Gold – Yunhai Xu (China)

Silver – Yongqiang Wang (China)

Bronze – Zhaojun Liu (China)

VIOLA

Gold – Yan Wang (China)

Silver – Huidong Yu (China)

Bronze – Xiaolin Xu (China)

CELLO

Gold - Krzysztof Krupa (Poland)

Silver – Zhongbo Wang (China)

Bronze – Xiangwei Chen (China)

VIOLIN BOW

Gold - Simon Guillaume (Belgium)

Silver - Sziráki Tamás (Hungary)

Bronze – Fayong Ruan (China) 

VIOLA BOW

Gold – Jianfeng Li (China)

Silver – Chunming Pu (China)

Bronze – Dongmin Xue (China)

CELLO BOW

Gold - Simon Guillaume (Belgium)

Silver – Mingfeng Cai (Taiwan)

Bronze – Jianfeng Li (China)

Award winners of the 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition on stage at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing.

Award winners of the 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition on stage at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing.

The awards ceremony was followed by an impressive exhibition of all of the competition entries in the underwater gallery at the NCPA, which was open to the public.