Sylvia Huang, representing Belgium in this year’s Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, has made it into the final after a performance of Mozart in the semi-finals which ended on Saturday. Huang is aged 25 and comes from Montigny-le-Tilleul in Hainaut province. Her father is a violinist of Chinese roots, and her Belgian mother plays the cello. This year’s competition is for violinists.
She is currently active as an orchestral musician, which makes her progress to the final more remarkable: the majority of candidates in the competition spend their time travelling the world taking part in the rarefied activity of music competitions in the hope of becoming concert soloists.
She joined the National Orchestra of Belgium at the age of only 18, and progressed to the position of co-solo violinist. In 2013 she first made acquaintance with the Queen Elisabeth Competition, playing with the NOB accompanying the finalists in that year’s piano competition, won by Boris Giltburg.
Since August 2014 she has played with the Concertgebouw Orkest in Amsterdam, reckoned to be one of the world’s finest ensembles. She also plays with three colleagues in the GoYa Quartet. According to acclaimed Belgian composer and conductor Dirk Brossé, she has the makings of a winner. He has conducted her several times, he told VRT News. “Then everyone who heard her knew that she was an exceptional talent. For me she is already a winner.”
Her semi-final performance (video here) of Mozart’s first violin concerto, accompanied by the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow, won her a final place, together with two Americans, two Canadians, two Japanese and one each from Austria, Romania, Ukraine, South Korea and China. The finalists now have one week of preparation at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo before the finals begin on 20 May at Bozar, with each finalist performing a set work by the Finnish composer Kimmo Hakola and a concerto of their own choice, accompanied by the NOB.
The violin competition has been in existence since 937, when it was won by David Oistrakh. It has yet to be won by a Belgian.
Live TV broadcasts of the finals all week on La Trois from 19.50 and Canvas from 20.00.