20th International Harp Contest in Israel Preview


The 20th International Harp Contest in Israel begins this week! Curious about the competition? Here’s everything you need to know about the event, which takes place Oct. 15-25, 2018. Watch harpcolumn.com for our updates throughout the competition.

Quick facts

The contest was founded in 1959 and takes place every three years. The first major international harp competition to come onto the scene, the contest quickly gained prominence within the harp community and crowned many of today’s leading players. Lyon & Healy and Salvi are sponsors, with the winner taking home a concert grand harp and other prizes.

The Propes Prize —named for contest founder Aharon Zvi Propes—is awarded for the best performance of a newly commissioned Israeli work, which becomes part of the Second Stage required repertoire. This year’s piece is “A Distant Echo,” by Joseph Bardanashvili.

The contest

Highly skilled harpists under the age of 36 will participate in a challenging 10-day series of elimination stages leading up to a final stage performance of Boieldieu’s Concerto in C Major with the Haifa Symphonic Orchestra. Check out the rest of the required repertoire for this year’s contest here. According the contest rules, a minimum of 12 contestants will move on to the second stage; six will advance to the third stage; and three harpists will compete for the top prize in the final round.

The Contestants

As of this post (because a few usually drop out) 32 harpists from around the world are scheduled to compete in the 20th contest. They are:

  • Anna Astesana (Italy)
  • Vuokko Ahtila (Finland)
  • Jae in Yoo (South Korea)
  • Margarita Babloian (Russia)
  • Sophie Baird-Daniel (USA)
  • Caroline Bembia (USA)
  • Heloise Carlean-Jones (France-S. Africa)
  • Chen-Yu Huang (Taiwan)
  • Hye Jin Kim (South Korea)
  • Madeline Jarzembak (USA)
  • Se Young Hwang (South Korea)
  • Marina Fradin (Israel)
  • Alisa Coffey (USA)
  • Agnese Contadini (Italy)
  • Sofija Sibinovic (Serbia)
  • Tjasha Gafner (Switzerland)
  • Lillian Kong (Hong Kong)
  • Mariya Mikhaylovskaya (Russia)
  • Alexandra Rzhavtseva (Russia)
  • Alisa Sadikova (Russia)
  • Qi Han (China)
  • Yun-Huan Chen (China)
  • Joan Rafaelle Kim (USA)
  • Lenka Petrovic (Serbia)
  • thomas Zimmer (France)
  • Lea Maria Wirtz (Germany-USA)
  • Anna-Livia Walker (Italy-USA)
  • Nadja Dornik (Serbia)
  • Tatiana Repnikova (Russia)
  • Andjela Stankovic (Serbia)
  • Joel Von Lerber (Switzerland)
  • Julie Vuignier (Switzerland)

The jury

It takes an elite panel to evaluate the best harpists in the world.This year’s jury is no exception. Members include:

  • Julia Rovinsky (Israel), Musical Director
  • Catherine Michel (France), Jury President
  • Mariko Anraku (Japan/USA)
  • Sylvain Blassel (France)
  • Zeev Dorman (Israel)
  • Kateřina Englichová  (Czech Republic)
  • Jung Kwak (South Korea)
  • Mr. Dmitry Yablonsky – Israel/USA
  • Irina Zingg (Russia/Switzerland)

More about the winners

Past winners represent a virtual who’s who of the harp world. See the complete list here. Read more about these past winners in back issues of Harp Column:

Is there always a winner?

No. Twice the contest has denied a first prize, most recently in 2009. The three finalists—Ina Zdorovetchi, Remy Van Kesteren, and Emily Levin—have all since achieved highly successful careers despite the outcome. We profiled them in our Jan-Feb 2010 issue.

Look for our updates about the 20th contest right here at harpcolumn.com.


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