Virtuosos V4+: Goose bumps and singing instruments in the first semi-final

Musical duels, secret ballot, super jury. Virtuosos V4+Slovenia has started.
The talent show’s star jury is made up of opera singer Erika Miklósa, guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, conductor-composer Steven Mercurio, cellist HAUSER, music festival director Gabriela Rachidi and concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith. You can watch the show online here:

The judges are Pablo-Sáinz Villegas, Erika Miklósa, Steven Mercurio, HAUSER, Gabriela Rachidi and Harvey Goldsmith

Two young musicians from each country would compete in each semi-final. The two contestants will take to the stage directly after each other. After each performance, the jury will give a verbal evaluation, and after the duel, a secret ballot will decide who will go through to the final. In case of a tie, the winner will be decided by HAUSER’s vote. From the two semi-finals, two contestants from each of the five countries will go through to the final, where the winners per country will also be decided and will win a gross prize of €10,000 each to support their musical studies. The finalists will be chosen as the winner of the Best of Talent Award, selected by secret ballot by the contestants themselves, who will not be allowed to vote for themselves or for another contestant from their own country.

Liu Yinuo Szofi

The show was opened by two young Hungarian musicians, the first to shine in front of the jury was 10-year-old Liu Yinuo Szofi, who performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C major, K. 467, mov.3.

After the performance, Erika Miklósa gave the first assessment. “It was super, virtuoso, brilliant. And you are a lovely person, I love you.” Pablo Sáinz Villegas agreed with the previous speaker, saying it was breathtaking. He then encouraged the contestant to smile and not to be afraid to embrace the music he was playing, as it would make the audience enjoy his performance even more.

How can you memorise so many notes at the age of ten?

– HAUSER asked the little girl, and then said that when she was that age she didn’t even know what a piano was, nor had she heard of Mozart.

HAUSER evaluating the young pianist´´

The next contestant, Levente Somogyi from Hungary played the saxophone. He said that before going on stage he always feels as if time slows down. The 19-year-old math genius played Paul Creston Sonata Op. 19, mov.1..

Steven Mercurio was delighted with his playing, saying that he had never heard this piece orchestrated like this before and it was truly beautiful. Harvey Goldsmith said that such a level of discipline is rare in classical music, and it was impressive because the performance was so. Miklósa Erika also liked the discipline, adding that Somogyi could always let himself go in the performance, and always had an idea.

Somogyi Levente

Musical accompaniment
Mario Gecasek is from Slovakia and his aim is always to try new things. When playing the accordion, he feels a kind of entanglement with the instrument. The 17-year-old played F. Angelis’ Chiquilin de bachin.

Gabriela Rachidi said it was a beautiful performance that touched him in an extraordinary way. Steven Mercurio asked how much of the piece was improvised and how much was pre-written. “97 percent of it was written,” he replied. “Really? Bravo, because it looked like you improvised,” said the judge.

Mario Gecasek

Nina Bockajova, 13, loves pole dancing, painting and playing the violin. Not a day goes by without her picking up the instrument. She has only ever dreamed of standing on this stage, and now here she is. For the competition she brought Fritz Kreisler’s Prelude and Allegro.

Nina Bockajova

“You might want to practice in front of a mirror, because I felt some tension in your right shoulder. You need to get your body relaxed enough to play the most dramatic parts of the music freely. Because the freer you are, the more majestic the music will be,” says Pablo Sáinz Villegas. Gabriela Rachidi was very impressed with her playing and believes she certainly belongs on stage.

Own voice
Two competitors from the Czech Republic were also competing with each other in the first semi-final. Kateřina Švecová has been playing the violin since the age of five. She has found in the instrument the passion that drives her to keep improving. She prepared with Saint Saens’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso Op. 28.

Kateřina Švecová

“You can already feel your uniqueness, which is extremely important. And you have your own voice, which is the most precious,” said Gabriela Rachidi, adding that she has a long career ahead of her.

Besides playing the violin, Roman Cervinka is passionate about two things: parrots and skateboarding. The 16-year-old signed up to the show to showcase his talent and his love of music. He performed Jules Conus’ Violin Concerto in E minor for the jury.

Roman Cervinka

Harvey Goldsmith said the performance was excellent. He believes that the future is bright for the contestant and that he can achieve great success. Gabriela Rachidi believes he has a mature and beautiful voice. She plays with confidence and humility.

Malgorzata Cieszko

The duel of the Polish contestants was between two wind players; an oboist and a clarinetist. Malgorzata Cieszko said that she feels she can be herself when she plays the oboe because she can show her own sensitivity through the sounds she makes. The 16-year-old played the second movement of Antonio Pasculli’s Oboe Concerto “La Favorita”.

Erika Miklósa was impressed by the performance. “You are unique and powerful, which is very important. You also have a vision of music. I like your courage, because you have shown something new in your personality.”

Singing instrument
Pawel Libront chose the clarinet under the influence of his father. He has deep feelings for his instrument. The 18-year-old came to the competition with the Rietz Clarinet Concerto Op. 29, Movement III.

Pawel Libront

“The instrument really sings in your hands, and that is the most beautiful thing a musician can achieve.”- said Pablo Sáinz Villegas. He admitted he was very moved. Steven Mercurio had never heard a clarinet piece in which so many notes had to be played in such a short time.

Patricija Avsic and Gabor Hollerung conductor

The first of the young Slovenian musicians to take to the stage was 13-year-old Patricija Avsic. Turns out she comes from a real musical family. She performed H. Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 1.

“You’re the first person who gave me goose bumps today. It was a moving and musical performance” – Pablo Sáinz Villegas was enchanted and moved by the music, which is important to him because it reached his heart.

For Julija Cante, the piano helps her connect with people and express herself. The 15-year-old entered the competition because she wants to experience something new. She played M. Fanni Canelles’ Eclipse Lunaire.

Julija Cante

Gabriela Rachidi said she created a special atmosphere. Steven Mercurio thinks she chose a great piece because it is important to play contemporary works.

The first semifinal episode was closed by jury member Páblos Sáinz Villegas’s breathtaking guitar performance.

Pablo Sainz Villegas

After the performances, the following results were announced, based on the secret ballot of the jury:

Hungary: Levente Somogyi

Slovakia: Mario Gecasek

Czech Republic: Roman Cervinka

Poland: Pawel Libront

Slovenia: Patricija Avsic

The grand prize winners from each of the five countries will each receive a gross prize of €10,000 and will also have the chance to perform with Maestro Plácido Domingo on 4 March 2023 in Budapest at the MVM Dóm. HUNGAROTON has offered the five grand prize winners the chance to record a joint album.

The winner of the Best of Talents Award will have the chance to perform with a world star, courtesy of HAUSER Virtuosos Talent Management, co-founded by HAUSER and Harvey Goldsmith.

The silver medal winners will each win a Hollóházi porcelain violin and a concert with the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in the Great Hall of the Liszt Academy.

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