Congratulations to violinist Russell Iceberg, winner of the 2020-2021 Golden Violin Award!
The Golden Violin Award final on Sunday, May 16, 2021, was an evening of outstanding music performed by three exceptional Schulich string players: violinist Alicia Choi with pianists Brigitte Poulin and Gaspard Tanguay-Labrosse; violinist Russell Iceberg with pianist Felix Hong; and violinist Astrid Nakamura with pianist Brigitte Poulin. The repertoire selection enjoyed by the online viewing audience was varied and exciting, and was played with deft skill and musicality by all candidates, making for an engaging final round.
A student of Andrew Wan, Russell began his 40-minute program with Beethoven’s famed “Kreutzer” Sonata No. 9 in A Major for Piano and Violin, Op. 47 and closed with a Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23 by Chopin, adapted for violin and piano by Eugène Ysaÿe. Russell said that though he could not choose a favourite from the pieces he played during the competition, the Chopin was extra special. Shares Russell, “Chopin sadly did not write any pieces for the violin, so we are forced to steal piano pieces, with sometimes mixed success. I learned of Ysaÿe’s adaptation of the famous G Minor Chopin Ballade because one of my teacher’s former students, Jacob Niederhoffer, did a beautiful job creating a proper published edition of this adaptation. I think it is a beautiful and effective adaptation. For me it is so much fun to get to play one of Chopin’s most loved and emotional works on the violin. As well, it has been a fun piece to work on with Felix, as he knows this work inside and out.”
For the final, candidates presented a program of 40 minutes of music of their choice, excluding repertoire presented at the semi-final round, as required by the competition. The jury for both the semi-final and final round was comprised of Schulich School of Music faculty members Assistant Professor of Cello Elizabeth Dolin, Associate Professor of Violin Violaine Melançon, Associate Professor of Viola and General and Artistic Director of MISQA, André Roy along with invited guests Marianne Dugal, 2nd associate and concertmaster of the OSM as well as Violin professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal and Anne Robert, founding member of Trio Hochelaga and violin professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and the Faculty of Music at the Université de Montréal. The jury was chaired by Prof. Douglas McNabney, Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at the Schulich School of Music.
The winner receives a generous scholarship, valued this year at $30,000, as well as a smaller likeness of the violin in the form of a 14-karat gold lapel pin. In addition, the winner will perform in the upcoming Schulich concert season and receives 6 hours of career coaching sessions with Marie-Catherine Lapointe of Boulevart Artists’ Management in Montreal. Runners-up in the final were awarded a $1,000 cash prize.
About the Golden Violin Award
The Golden Violin Award was established in 2006 by businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, a year after he donated $20 million to McGill’s Schulich School of Music. Made of pewter and gold plate, the Golden Violin remains on permanent display in McGill’s Marvin Duchow Music Library.