VC INTERVIEW | Marcy Straw, Govt Director of the California Music Heart


The San Francisco-based Irving M Klein Worldwide String Competitors introduced the 9 semi-finalists for the 2022 version. The competitors’s semi-finals and finals shall be streamed dwell right here on The Violin Channel, ranging from 10 AM on Saturday, June 4, and from 3 PM on Sunday, June 5.

We sat down with Marcy Straw, govt director of the California Music Heart (CMC), residence of the Klein Worldwide String Competitors.


Inform us in regards to the Klein Competitors. When was it based and what would you say was its mission when it began, and its mission as we speak?

For practically 5 many years the California Music Heart (CMC) has been devoted to our mission of nurturing and championing the world’s best younger string gamers. We exist to serve the following era of classical string gamers by way of our preliminary intersection of the Irving M. Klein Worldwide String Competitors (The Klein). It’s the start line for a sustained relationship with these artists, whom we domesticate and information to grow to be inventive ambassadors locally, not simply main performers of their subject. We encourage and provides them alternatives to provide again on and off the stage.


CMC was based in 1974 by Irving M. Klein, a virtuoso chamber musician and grasp cello instructor, because the sponsoring group for a summer time music institute and chamber music sequence for younger artists. Following Mr. Klein’s passing in 1985, CMC inaugurated the Irving M. Klein Worldwide String Competitors in the summertime of 1986 in his reminiscence. Now its main focus, we’re producing our thirty seventh competition this yr.

When and the place will this yr’s competitors happen? And who’s eligible to enter?

We could not be extra excited to lastly return in individual to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (our presenting companion)! The 2022 Semifinals happen Saturday, June 4, 10 AM Pacific in Caroline H. Hume Corridor on the Conservatory. The Finals start at 3 PM Pacific on Sunday, June fifth. I hope the success of the livestreams of the 2020 and 2021 digital Competitorss continues in 2022 with each days’ performances scheduled to livestream on the Violin Channel.


We maintain the standards for candidates easy: the Klein Competitors is open to violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists aged 15-23 on the time of the competitors. All prizes are supposed for instrumental research, so individuals underneath skilled administration are usually not eligible.


What’s going to this yr’s first prize winner obtain? What initiatives do you have got in place to assist your laureates past the conclusion of the occasion?

The primary prize winner receives a $5,000 money prize and soloist efficiency contracts with the Santa Cruz Symphony, Gualala Arts Chamber Sequence, Peninsula Symphony, Napa’s Music within the Vineyards, and others. The second prize winner receives a $3,500 money prize and a efficiency contract with San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Laureates may additionally carry out with our presenting companions Younger Individuals’s Symphony Orchestra, Grasp Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra, Vallejo Symphony. Laureates are additionally introduced in recitals across the Bay Space.

We’re devoted to supporting these distinctive gamers early of their careers, helping them with the event {of professional} and efficiency expertise, encouraging their neighborhood involvement, and offering them with efficiency alternatives and financial assist.  I like the full-circle of it: as they mature, some are invited to function Competitors mentors, judges, and even on our board or as our composer.

Who’re a few of your former prize winners, who’ve actually been ready to make use of this expertise with The Klein to springboard their careers?

There are too many profitable laureates to call, however I will attempt: the Klein has been instrumental in serving to to boost the creating careers of lots of of gamers who’ve gone on to grow to be famend soloists, chamber musicians, academics, and distinguished members of the world’s best orchestras. They embrace soloists Alyssa Park (1989), Jennifer Koh (1993), Vadim Gluzman (1993), Alban Gerhardt (1989), Tessa Lark (2008), Francesca dePasquale (2010), Nikki Chooi (2009); David Requiro (2006); Mihai Marica (2005); Caroline Campbell (2002); Robert deMaine (1990); principal chairs and members of U.S. orchestras (Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle); and members of the San Francisco Symphony: Wyatt Underhill (2013), David Kim (2004), Melissa Kleinbart (1999), and Charles Chandler (1986).

Apparently, most competitorss as we speak will ask for video prescreening information from their candidates, however you’ve made the choice to ask for nameless audio information. Please inform us your ideas on this? Why do you are feeling it’s essential?

I acknowledge that there’s a energetic and important debate round blind auditions, significantly in orchestra hiring. As a Competitors, we goal to neutralize any unconscious (in addition to intentional) bias {that a} listener could possess by eradicating the looks, gender, race, nationwide origin, familiarity and so on. traits of the candidates. Very merely, you will need to us to stage the taking part in subject as a lot as potential for all candidates.  


Our screeners and listeners have no idea who they’re evaluating at any time all through a three-step course of. All purposes are initially listened to by two completely different screeners, and obtain two units of rankings. High-ranked purposes are superior to a special set of listeners, and ultimate picks are made out of the highest rankings of that group.  Solely when the semifinalist cohort and alternates have been chosen, will their identities be revealed to anybody concerned within the screening course of.

Who will serve in your jury this yr? What do you are feeling they are going to be searching for?

The 2002 jury are: 

    • Richard Aaron presently serves as professor of cello on the College of Michigan, The JuilliardSchool and The Robert McDuffie Heart for Strings. Beforehand he taught on the Cleveland Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory.
    • Christopher Costanza is cellist of the St. Lawrence String Quartet and Artist-in-Residence at Stanford College, the place he teaches cello and chamber music and performs all kinds of formal and casual live shows every season.
    • Francesca dePasquale,Klein Laureate (1st Prize, 2010) is a member of the violin school at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard College Pre-School Program. Her strong efficiency profession contains intensive work in solo and chamber settings.
    • Gloria Justen is composer of this yr’s Commissioned Works 
    • Daniel Stewart serves as Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2021 he made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in a program that includes Beethoven’s ninth Symphony.
    • Ian Swensen is the Isaac Stern Distinguished Chair of Violin on the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a frequent soloist and chamber musician. He was a winner within the Naumburg Basis’s Worldwide Violin (1984) and Chamber Music Competitorss (1985).
    • Barbara Day Turner is the founder and Music Director of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra.   She carried out for Opera San José for 18 years, and has served as Music Administrator and Conductor for the Utah Competition Opera and Musical Theater.

Whereas I am unable to communicate for the person parts every panelist considers or how they weigh them, general, we ask that the main criterion for judging is a willpower of the most effective whole inventive/musical realization of the music carried out by way of each rounds of the Competitors. The jury brings their deep expertise as revered string gamers, pedagogues, conductors and educators to the combo. We additionally try to incorporate a laureate established of their profession on the panel annually to supply their perspective.

What recommendation do you have got for younger musicians as we speak? Significantly those that have simply carried out properly at a competitors. How do they maximize the expertise, publicity, and prize cash to essentially propel their profession to the following stage?

Participation in competitorss might be thought-about a vital a part of a musician’s coaching, and a supply of assist for younger artists, honing goal-setting, networking, audition and efficiency expertise, and inspiring focus and resiliency. Competitorss alone can draw early consideration to younger artists. They aren’t an finish, however a way to an finish: a profitable music profession. To leverage their accomplishment, we place our prizewinners in high-profile soloist slots with distinguished regional symphonies and chamber orchestras, and produce them in intimate recitals, each designed to additional our alumni’s careers, and promote them by way of numerous channels.

I believe there are some things for younger musicians to think about, past the same old recommendation of follow, self-discipline, focus, and so on.  These are a given. 

    • I’d encourage younger gamers to grab alternatives which will really feel out of their consolation zone: collaborate freely with others, together with throughout disciplines; broaden and deepen your repertoire with signature items you can “personal”, past the standard repertoire; champion an under-played composer. Personal your personal future. Experiment. 
    • Have a look at methods to realize expertise performing in entrance of dwell audiences wherever you’ll be able to — it’s invaluable to your progress.  Apply chatting with audiences, potential donors or benefactors and youthful college students. Do not be shy!  
    • One thing I’ve seen the jury point out is, “Do I need to hear this participant once more?” “Have they got a viewpoint?” This echoes my perception that creating a private type and distinct musical character, other than being simply proficient, is important. It’s the “X” issue to turning into an expressive and interesting artist who will stand out and advance in a really crowded subject.

In every version, the Klein Competitors commissions a composer to put in writing a brand new work on your violin, viola, cello, and double bass opponents. How do you select this composer, and why is that this an essential element of your competitors and an integral check and expertise on your candidates?

We now have all the time believed that musicians (and particularly youthful ones) have to know the language of the music of their very own time. In any case, music exists, partially, to specific the experiences of the current second. The Klein requires candidates to carry out twentieth/twenty first century works to display facility in performing music of the current and premiere a brand new work written for his or her instrument.

Yearly a set of 4 unaccompanied items, one every for violin, viola, cello, bass, of comparable issue and magnificence by a up to date composer. We search for American composers with a facility for strings and distinctively trendy sensibility to distinction with the extra conventional repertoire usually performed. The items ought to embrace technical challenges but in addition characteristic a lyrical, expressive dimension that encourages the performers to craft particular person interpretations. These performances are central to the Jury’s analysis of the gamers.

Ideally, the items current some appreciable technical challenges to the gamers, however extra importantly, they provide a spread of interpretive selections that may be very intriguing and revealing in regards to the musical personalities of the semifinalists. The works could or will not be linked/associated — we depart that to the composer. Listening to how every particular person interprets this new music allows the listeners to study an incredible deal in regards to the contestant’s talents and expressive inclinations.

In live performance with Klein Creative Director Mitchell Sardou Klein, an Creative Committee considers selections introduced ahead by way of our scan of the brand new music panorama, suggestions by revered colleagues within the subject, and a substantial community. Or simply listening to a bit that knocks your socks off! Latest composers have included Carlos Simon, Sakari Vanderveer Dixon, Lisa Bielawa, David Froom, and Paola Prestini. As I discussed, it may be full-circle: this yr’s composer, Gloria Justen received the Klein prime prize in 1987.  How cool is that?

This yr, there may even be a particular documentary being made in regards to the competitors. Are you able to inform us about this undertaking?

This was deliberate for the 2020, then the 2021 Competitorss, and everyone knows how these years went, so we’re thrilled that finally, at this yr’s KleinFrom the High shall be in residence recording a documentary-style portrait of the competitors for his or her weekly NPR sequence. From the High host pianist Peter Dugan will be part of co-emcees Tessa Lark (additionally semifinalist mentor) and Klein Creative Director Mitchell Sardou Klein on stage. The ensuing program to air Fall 2022 on NPR will characteristic performances from the competitors in addition to interviews and subject recordings with opponents, the Klein workforce, and jury. We’re enthusiastic about this collaboration, as so a lot of our opponents are alums of From the High, and Tessa serves as a co-creative for them.