ASSEMBLY HALL, WORTHING
Sunday 12th November 2023 at 2.45pm
Soloist: SIMON ZHU (violin)
Conductor: JOHN GIBBONS
Leader: JULIAN LEAPER
Bernard Stevens Symphony of Liberation
Dvorak Violin Concerto
Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D major
The brilliant young violinist Simon Zhu is a major prizewinner at Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. Dvorak’s Violin Concerto is one of his most sunny creations with its intensely beautiful slow movement and infectious dance finale built on the Furiant, a Czech folk dance.
Sibelius, after studies in Germany, returned to his native Finland fired up with patriotic zeal as the country sought to free itself from the yoke of the Russian Empire. Finlandia has become an iconic symbol of liberation whilst the Second Symphony delivers one of the truly great uplifting conclusions to a symphony: a moment, in the opinion of the Finnish conductor Georg Schnéevoigt, that describes hope for deliverance from tyranny that stirred in every Finn.
Symphony of Liberation by Bernard Stevens was awarded first prize in the 1945 Daily Express ‘Victory Music’ competition and was premiered by Sir Malcolm Sargent in 1946 at the Royal Albert Hall. Further performances followed under Sir John Barbirolli and Charles Groves and appeared on CD recorded by the BBC Philharmonic under Sir Edward Downes.
The professional orchestra of
Simon Zhu is a rising young violinist with a versatile repertoire. Born in Tübingen, Germany in 2001, he received his first violin lessons at the age of 6. His exceptional talent was recognized at an early age and he soon began to receive lessons from renowned violin professors. He studied at the Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria with Wonji Kim-Ozim and Professor Tomasz Tomaszewski at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. He currently studies with Prof Ana Chumachenco at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Munich and receives private lessons from Ning Feng.
Master classes with pedagogues such as Wolfgang Marschner, Rainer Kussmaul, Boris Kuschnir, Petru Munteanu, Krzysztof Wegrzyn, Igor Ozim, Ingolf Turban and Paul Roczek completed his musical education.
His successes are remarkable. In addition to numerous First Prize awards at the Jugend musiziert competition, he won First Prize at the 13th International Georg Philipp Telemann Competition in Poznan, Poland in 2016 with distinction for the best interpretation of a Fantasy for violin solo by Georg Philipp Telemann. In 2016, he also received the Bruno Frey Music Prize awarded by the Bruno Frey Foundation, Ochsenhausen.
In 2017, he was awarded First Prize at the 17th International Violin Competition in Kloster Schöntal, including a special prize for the best interpretation of a virtuoso piece and the Reinhold-Würth-Förderpreis. Recent competition successes include First Prize at the 34th International Violin Competition Valsesia Musica (2018), First Prize at the Zhuhai Mozart Competition (2019) and First Prize at the 7th International Chamber Music Competition Bydgoszcz (2020) with his duo partner, Adam Tomaszewski.
In May 2021, he won Second Prize at the Menuhin Competition in Richmond, Virginia, as well as the Mozart Prize and the European Community EMCY Award for his outstanding performance at the Menuhin Competition.
Simon Zhu made his debut at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2015 and has since performed there several times as a soloist with orchestra. He was a guest at the International Young Masters Violin Festival on Lake Constance and is a scholarship holder of the Menuhin Festival & Academy. He has given concerts in Germany, England, France, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Korea, and China, performing with renowned orchestras including the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and the Salzburg Chamber Soloists.
Simon is a scholarship holder at the International Academy of Music in Liechtenstein and takes part in intensive music weeks and activities of the Academy. He has been a scholarship recipient of the German Music Foundation since 2016. He is an academist at the Hope Music Academy and at the Walter Stauffer Academy Cremona, where he studies with Professor Salvatore Accardo.
Since 2020, he has performed on a fine old Montagnana violin, generously loaned by the Florian Leonhard Fellowship.
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