As was previously announced, this past weekend saw the 30th annual Irving M. Klein International String Competition hosted by San Francisco State University. As in the past the panel of judges included previous Klein winners, this time David Requiro (2006, cello) and David Kim (2004, viola). Paola Prestini, who wrote “Ophelia,” the new commissioned composition that all semifinalists were required to play, also served as a judge. The remaining judges were Alan Grishman, Ian Swensen, Margaret Tait, and Barbara Day Turner.
This year, for the very first time in the 30-year history of the event, the Competition was won by a San Francisco native. He was seventeen-year-old cellist Oliver Herbert, a graduate of the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and a former Principal Cello of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Herbert will enter the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia this fall. His prize is valued at $13,000 and includes commitments for soloist engagements with the Santa Cruz Symphony and the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, the Gualala Arts Chamber Music Series, Music in the Vineyards (in Napa Valley), and Noontime Concerts™. He also won the $500 Pablo Casals Award for the best performance of a solo work by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 1009 in C major). His concerto performance was a movement from Robert Schumann’s C minor concerto, and his chamber music offering was from César Franck’s A major sonata.
Herbert’s past credentials include far more than his experiences in San Francisco. Last summer he served as Principal Cello with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, which performed at Carnegie Hall, Seiji Ozawa Hall, and Walt Disney Hall. In Los Angeles he also served as Principal Cello with the Colburn Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. Past awards include the Felix Khuner Young Artist Competition prize and the silver medal in the 2015 Stulberg International String Competition. His past teachers include Iris Pingel and Peter Wyrick.
Other prize winners are as follows:
- Fifteen-year-old violinist Isabella Perron received the second prize, the Elaine H. Kline Prize, valued at $5000 and including a performance with the San José Chamber Orchestra.
- Sixteen-year-old violinists Emily Shehi won the third prize, valued at $2500 and given by David and Judy Anderson, in memory of Judy’s father, Milton Preves.
- The $1250 Harry Adams Prize was awarded to eighteen-year-old violinist Ariel Horowitz.
- The other $1250 fourth prize was given in nineteen-year-old violist Erika Gray in memory of Kathleen E. Freeman.
- All remaining semifinalists received cash prizes of $750.