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Zlatomir Fung wins the 29th Irving M. Klein International String Competition

Zlatomir Fung (right) performing with his Back Bay Trio colleagues, Kate Arndt, violin, and Daniel Kim, piano
Zlatomir Fung (right) performing with his Back Bay Trio colleagues, Kate Arndt, violin, and Daniel Kim, pianofrom the Green Room Blog for From the Top

This past weekend the 29th Irving M. Klein International String Competition was held at San Francisco State University. The eight semifinalists gave their 20–25-minute recitals on Saturday, and three finalists were selected. Each finalist gave a 25–35-minute recital on Sunday, after which the judges convened to make their decisions. This year’s panel included three previous Klein winners, Cathy Bastrak (1995, violin), Jennifer Frautschi (1991, violin), and Robert deMaine (1989, cello), as well as Mark Volkert, who wrote the new commissioned composition that all semifinalists were required to play. The remaining judges were Melvin Margolis, Donna Mudge, Alice Schoenfeld, Barbara Day Turner, and Sandy Wilson, cellist of the Alexander String Quartet.

Those who saw my announcement of this competition may have observed how young most of the semifinalists were. In fact this was the youngest group of semifinalists in the history of the event. It was also one of the closest, requiring a tiebreaker to determine the winner.

That winner was fifteen-year-old Zlatomir Fung from Westborough, Massachusetts, currently studying at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. In addition to Volkert’s “Melpomene,” Fung’s program included movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s 1011 solo cello suite in C minor, Robert Schumann’s Opus 129 cello concerto in A minor, and Alfred Schnittke’s first sonata for cello and piano, a particularly ambitious undertaking. Fung was given the Marvin T. Tepperman Memorial Award, valued at $13,000 and including 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 Bach work.

Other prize winners are as follows:

  • Eighteen-year-old cellist Charles Seo received the second prize, the Elaine H. Kline Prize, valued at $5000 and including a performance with the San José Chamber Orchestra.
  • Third prize, the $2500 Alice Anne Roberts Memorial Prize, went to sixteen-year-old violinist Angela Wee.
  • 23-year-old violinist Luke Hsu won the $1250 Harry Adams Prize.
  • The other $1250 fourth prize, given in memory of Lavilla Barry by her husband Thomas, was awarded to seventeen-year-old Kyumin Park, who also received the $200 Allen and Susan Weiss Memorial Prize for the best performance of Volkert’s commissioned work.
  • All remaining semifinalists received cash prizes of $750.