Visit the music Olympics

We take you to the 66th ARD International Music Competition in Munich to hear prize winners in the disciplines of violin, piano, oboe and guitar.

Listen to audio 54:59

Concert Hour: ARD Music Competition, part one

In its most recent edition in September 2017, the ARD Competition received the applications of a record 640 young musicians from 23 countries. Among them, 198 were selected for entry. After three weeks of competition, the winners were announced, and we'll hear them in this program. 

The ARD Music Competition being notoriously stingy with first prizes, there were none awarded either in guitar, violin or oboe. 

Guitarist Junhong Kuang from China took a second prize. Now age 17, he debuted at Carnegie Hall at age 13, and at age 15 he moved to Baltimore to study with the legendary Manuel Barrueco. Along with Junhong Kuang, another second prize in guitar went to a 25-year-old Italian named Davide Giovanni Tomasi, who currently studies in Graz, Austria. Jury member Jürgen Ruck described the differences between the two: "Mr. Kuang is a very virtuoso player. He made a very powerful impression in the Rodrigo concerto, and I find him very convincing. Mr. Tomasi is a very sensitive player, and I liked him very much in the solo rounds."

Guitarist Junhong Kuang (ARD Music Competition/Daniel Delang)

Guitarist Junhong Kuang

Twenty-seven-year-old German violinist Sarah Christian was one of the two winners of a second prize in her category. All of the violinists were evaluated on their ability to perform Mozart, and as Ms. Christian revealed, there is a paradoxical element to his music: "Every note has to speak, and the music has dramatic operatic qualities, but it mustn't be too romantic. At some point, you have to just let go, which is never easy for musicians who are trained to be perfectionists."

Twenty-three-year-old Italian Andrea Obiso, the other second prize-winning violinist, impressed the jury and the audience with his expressiveness and charisma. A student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, he told us what he does to prepare for an obligatory piece at the ARD Competition, Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1. "Before coming on stage, I sing the melody. This concerto seems to tell a story. It's about a conversation. I imagine it in different ways. Sometimes it's the devil masked as a clown. But in the first movement, it's someone playing with children." 

Twenty-four-year-old South Korean oboist Kyeong Ham told us what he gained by entering the ARD competition: "The preparation was very important to me. I learned a lot about myself. I think if you're under pressure, you just learn a lot more. I don't know why. I learned how to deal with such a situation — and then onstage, I suddenly came up with ideas I hadn't had before. That was such a surprise, and I think it's great." 

Oboist Kyeong Ham (ARD Music Competition/Daniel Delang)

Oboist Kyeong Ham

Joaquín Rodrigo
Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, 3rd movement 

performed by:
Davide Giovanni Tomasi, guitar
Munich Radio Orchestra 
David Reiland, conductor
Recorded by Radio Bavaria, Munich (BR) in the Prince Regent Theater, Munich on September 13, 2017 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Violin concerto in A Major, K. 219, 3rd movement
  • Oboe concerto in C Major, K. 314, 1st movement

performed by:
Sarah Christian, violin
Kyeong Ham, oboe 
Munich Chamber Orchestra 
Recorded by Radio Bavaria, Munich (BR) in the Prince Regent Theater, Munich on September 14, 2017 

Joaquín Rodrigo 
Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, 2nd movement

Sergei Prokofiev 
Violin concerto No. 1 in D Major, op. 19, 2nd and 3rd movements

performed by:
Junhong Kuang, guitar
Andrea Obiso, violin
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra 
Michael Francis, conductor
Recorded by Radio Bavaria, Munich (BR) in the Munich Philharmonie on September 15, 2017 

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