In addition to career-building cachet, the Tchaikovsky Competition offers relatively hefty prize money: $40,000 for each gold medalist, $30,000 for each silver medalist and $20,000 for each bronze medalist. And the career-building has already started: according to a report from Agence France-Presse, managers and impresarios from Russia and other countries have already offered engagements to several of the laureates.
The president of this year's event was to have been Mstislav Rostropovich, who died earlier this year. This year's competition was dedicated to his memory, and his widow, soprano and pedagogue Galina Vishnevskaya, presented the medals at the closing ceremony, along with Russian national minister of culture Alexander Sokolov.
The big winner among the contestants seems to be Albina Shagimuratova, a 27-year-old soprano born in Uzbekistan and representing Russia, who just completed her first year with the Houston Grand Opera Studio, the company's young artists' program. She took the gold medal for female singers as well as a Rostropovich Grant (underwritten by the Wimm-Bill-Dann company), the Toyota Prize and a special award for dramatic skill from the Union of Theatrical Workers of the Russian Federation. Shagimuratova played the Dew Fairy and Sandman in this past season's HGO production of Hansel and Gretel, directed by Basil Twist; during the coming season in Houston, she will sing the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute and Musetta in Puccini's La Bohme.
The gold medal for male singers went to 31-year-old Ukrainian bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk, a member of the Hamburg State Opera.
The piano jury decided not to award a gold medal at all, reportedly after long and heated debate, according to The Moscow Times. Miroslav Kultyshev of St. Petersburg, Russia was awarded a silver medal. Fellow Russian Sergei Antonov took top honors among the cellists, while the gold medal for violinists went to 21-year-old Mayuko Kamio of Japan. According to Agence France-Presse, violinist and conductor Vladimir Spivakov, who was on the jury, has already offered Kamio an engagement to play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia under his baton.
There was another unusual decision from one of the juries this year, according to The Moscow Times. The violin judges felt that 23-year-old Artyom Shishkov of Belarus probably deserved to make the finals, but for his poor-quality violin. Spivakov said frankly at a press conference last week that Shishkov "played very well, but on a catastrophically bad instrument. So we simply couldn't advance him." The jury wrote a formal letter to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko asking that his government provide the young violinist with a decent instrument.
The Tchaikovsky Competition, whose once-formidable reputation had fallen somewhat in recent years, began a serious effort this year to regain some of the luster it had in the 1950s, '60 and '70s. The voting system was reformed and made more transparent, and the Tchaikovsky Foundation will make an effort to support winners in their career development following the competition. Among the prominent jurors this year were Spivakov, pianist and former Curtis Institute president Gary Graffman, legendary violin teacher Zakhar Bron, cellist Laurence Lesser, and singers Irina Bogacheva, Luigi Alva, Vladimir Galouzine, Yevgeny Nesterenko and Grace Bumbry.
Normally held every four years, the Tchaikovsky Competition had been due for 2006 but was delayed by a year in order to avoid overlap with the World Cup of soccer. Thus, the next edition of the event was supposed to have been held in 2011 — but it has been moved back to 2010, according to The Moscow Times, because the Tchaikovsky Competition is contractually bound to avoid scheduling conflicts with the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium.
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Laureates of the Tchaikovsky International Competition
- Sergei Antonov (Russia) - Gold Medal
- Alexander Buzlov (Russia) - Silver Medal and MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition)
- Istvšn Všrdai (Hungary) - Bronze Medal and special prize from the Tchaikovsky International Charitable Fund and the Jurgenson publishing house
- Evgeny Rumiantsev (Russia) - 4th Prize
- Narek Ahnazarian (Armenia) - 5th Prize and Russian Composers' Union Prize (for youngest finalist)
- David Pia (Switzerland) - 6th Prize
- Albina Shagimuratova - Gold Medal, Toyota Prize, Rostropovich Grant and Union of Theatrical Workers of the Russian Federation Prize for best exponent of opera as theater
- Olesya Petrova (Russia) - Silver Medal and Rostropovich Grant
- Marika Gulordava (Georgia) - Bronze Medal, Rostropovich Grant and MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition)
- Anna Viktorova (Russia) - 4th Prize
- Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Ukraine) - Gold Medal and Rostropovich Grant
- Dmitri Beloselsky (Russia) - Silver Medal and Rostropovich Grant
- Maxim Paster (Ukraine) - Bronze Medal, Rostropovich Grant, MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition) and Kozlovsky Fund Prize (for best tenor)
- Piotr Tolstenko (Russia) - 4th Prize
- Gold Medal not awarded
- Miroslav Kultyshev (Russia) - Silver Medal
- Alexander Lubyantsev (Russia) - Bronze Medal and MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition)
- Lim Dong Hyek (South Korea) - 4th Prize
- Sergei Sobolev (Russia) - 4th Prize and MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition)
- Benjamin Moser (Germany) - 5th prize and MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition)
- Fyodor Amirov (Russia) - 6th Prize
- Andrei Korobeinikov - MICEX Prize (for best performance of a Tchaikovsky composition)
- Mayuko Kamio (Japan) - Gold Medal
- Nikita Borisoglebsky (Russia) - Silver Medal
- Yuki Manuela Janke (Germany) - Bronze Medal
- So-Young Yoon (South Korea) - 4th Prize
- Hyon-Su Shin (South Korea) - 5th Prize
- Zijiong Wang (China) - 6th Prize