As for a musician, having experience with international competitions (winning prices incl. first) it was a pleasure to sit through this “medium size” but very interesting harp contest. Unfortunately I was able to listen only to the soloist category.
The first day we’ve heard nine very talented young harpists, (all girls) with a wide variety of program, where the for this event composed modern work was the only one that was same for all of them.
In the jury were five ladies, almost all young, (especially one with age 22; perhaps younger than some candidates) and the president Michel Jakobiec.
After the first long afternoon, it took the jury about half on hour to make the decision of selecting five competitors for the second stage that took place two days later. In my opinion it was a fair choice, maybe I would have chosen only four of them, or another fifth one.
On the second (in fact third) day we’ve heard two music that was the same for all candidates; Debussy Danses with string quartet and Godefroid Carnaval de Venice.
The afternoon started with the Belgian candidate. She played nice, nothing extraordinary, some little things here and there, but quite well.
The second girl from Italy, who is very young, had a choice of a quite difficult piece, so together with the Godefroid virtuoso variations she had a very technically demanding program. She nailed it almost without any mistakes, (once she left out one hand for a half bar and was laughing) but unfortunately I didn’t find much musical inside in her playing. All was fast, one dynamic, (loud) and especially the Debussy without those beautiful colors.
The next, French candidate played very nice, here I would say also with one dynamic but more like mezzo piano, and some small mistakes here and there were hardly noticeable. She left me in cold there too, I didn’t feel from her also much more musicality, only the usual visual “cute harpist movements”.
The fourth girl from Israel was a bit of a surprise, unfortunately in a negative way. She was way too nervous; her Godefroid was really slow and gave a feeling she is not yet on top of it technically. It was a pity for her because she played much better in the first round.
The last candidate from Canada was also a surprise, in her case in a very positive way. She came on stage with smile, she gave a bow together with the quartet members, (the others hardly noticed that they have another four musicians with them) and gave a beautiful performance of her program. As the only one, her musicality was very natural, with strong technical basics; I found her performance the most enjoyable. Unfortunately the quartet was getting tired and made some mistakes; for the listener those could have been hers although their weren’t.
It is interesting to mention that since Camac sponsored this contest, all jury members are playing Camac harps, and also for the candidates were only Camac harps there for the competition. But, some brought their own instruments, and sadly, I have to admit, those were much better than any of the Camac’s.
After all, it wasn’t a surprise that the result was a first prize for the French Cecile Monsinjon who played on a Camac harp, but the other two prizes had to go to the “Salvi girls”, Marta Marinelli second and Katrina Szederkenyi third.
Even, at the announcement Ms. Monsinjon didn’t seem to be very happy, that gave me an unhealthy impression that well, of course if she played on a Camac harp that makes the decision itself.
Also, aside from this competition, it’s interesting to think about that if one is buying a Camac harp, gets automatically some kind of management from Camac. (that’s what I’ve heard) I was really surprised as we heard the very young Anneleen Lenaerts (jury member) in a concert on the second day, plays also on Camac harp although she had lot’s to thank for Salvi in her carrier!
It’s very unfortunate that in today’s too strongly business oriented world even simple music competitions cannot be fair because of some business interests!