ROCHESTER, NY ― An outstanding final-round performance of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 ― with the Odessa National Philharmonic ― won Eastman School of Music student Grace Lee the silver prize in the first-ever David Oistrakh International Violin Competition, held in September in the legendary city of Odessa in the Ukraine.
As second-place winner, Lee received a $10,000 cash award, plus a special prize for the best performance of Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1 in F minor, which she performed in the competition’s second round.
Forty talented violinists, representing 14 countries from around the world, competed at this first annual competition named in honor of the great Russian violinist. In addition to Lee, three other Eastman students also participated in the competition. One, Ainur Zabenova, won the fifth prize of $3000.
Both Lee and Zabenova are students of Oleh Krysa, professor of violin at Eastman. Krysa was the chair of the Oistrakh Competition’s jury; his wife, Tatiana Tchekina, was one of the official pianists of the competition, and accompanied both Eastman prizewinners and other competitors.
Born in Singapore, Lee, a 20-year-old junior, is already an accomplished musician and competitor on the international level, previously winning first prize at the Singapore National Violin Competition. She currently resides in Rochester. Zabenova, a graduate teaching assistant to Krysa, also is a previous prizewinner on the international stage, having placed second in the Pantcho Vladigerov International Violin Competition held in Bulgaria in 2002.
The Oistrakh Competition was divided into three rounds, requiring participants to prepare a total of eight violin masterworks. Seventeen participants advanced to the second round, and, from there, seven competed in the third and final round. The competition’s first round took place at the Odessa State A.V.Nezhdanova Academy of Music (formerly the Odessa Conservatory), the oldest school of music in the Ukraine. The other rounds were held in the historic Odessa Philhamonic Hall.
David Oistrakh (1908-1974) was a Ukranian violinist born in Odessa, and graduated from the Odessa Conservatory in 1926. He toured the world during the Soviet era and is widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century.