From September 18th through 28th, Wu Han traveled to Hamburg to join the jury of the first International Chamber Music Competition for String Quartet and Piano Trio in Hamburg, Germany. The competition, founded and directed by cellist Niklas Schmidt, featured up-and-coming chamber groups selected from over 30 countries, with a juries chaired by legendary founder of the Beaux Arts Trio, Menahem Pressler, and founder of the Alban Berg Quartet, Valentin Erben.
in Wu Han’s words…
It was a tremendous honor to be a part of the first International Chamber Music Competition in Hamburg, with fellow members reading like a Who’s Who in the chamber music world. Musicians on the panel were from the Beaux Arts Trio, Lincoln Center, Alban Berg Quartet, Artemis Quartet, Trio Fontenay, Cherubini Quartet, Vermeer Quartet, and the Orlando Quartet, just to name a few.
Cellist Niklas Schmidt is the competition’s founder and director.
At the outset of the competition, founding members of the Beaux Arts Trio, Bernhard Greenhouse and Menahem Pressler shared insights with the competition’s young contestants.
Having founded the Beaux Arts Trio in 1955, Pressler and Greenhouse had not worked together on a project in nearly 18 years, though they appeared as close as brothers.
The competition was in three rounds; we heard 14 string quartets and 14 piano trios. With many talented contestants to choose from, the jury discussion room had a palpable intensity.
The results were first announced privately. First place in the piano trio division went to the Saguaro Piano trio, and first place in the string quartet division went to the Arcadia String Quartet.
The competition’s final concert was broadcast on radio and internet stream.
Daniel Hope, the final violinist in the Beaux Arts Trio, met Bernhard Greenhouse, the Trio’s original cellist, who, at age 93 is 50 years his senior.
Daniel Hope and Menahem Pressler have an extraordinary relationship even with their age difference, and Daniel is like a part of Menahem’s family. Daniel has captured many moments of the last generation of the Beaux Arts Trio through photos, blog posts, and radio programs. Daniel has also just released a book about how to enjoy concerts, and I’m greatly looking forward to the release of the English translation.
Menahem Pressler, me, and fellow jury member Shmuel Ashkenasi, violinist founder of the Vermeer Quartet.
Founder Niklas Schmidt is an extraordinary cellist, is a member of the Trio Fontenay, and also runs a summer chamber music school in Hamburg. He deserves many thanks for contributing so much to chamber music and giving young musicians an opportunity be known to the world through this incredible competition.