French musician wins first Queen Elisabeth cello competition


Victor Julien-Laferrière has won the inaugural edition of Brussels’ Queen Elisabeth Competition for cello, in a field that began with more than 200 applicants

€25,000 prize

A French musician has become the first ever winner of Brussels’ international Queen Elisabeth Competition for cello.

Victor Julien-Laferrière, born in 1990, began playing with the French Philharmonique in 2013 after winning the 2012 Spring Prague International Competition. He will go on to play multiple concerts locally and abroad as part of his prize, in addition to receiving €25,000 and a CD of his work. His winning performance was of Shostakovich’s “First Cello Concerto” with the Brussels Philharmonic.

Named after the former queen of Belgium, the annual competition held in Brussels features performances from young classical violinists, pianists, singers and now cellists, with the chosen instrument rotating each year on a four-year cycle.

This is the first time the competition, founded in 1937, has included cello as part of its programme, making it the first instrument to be added since 1988, when singing was introduced.

The latest edition of the competition began with more than 200 video applicants from around the world. Yuya Okamoto (Japan), Santiago Cañón-Valencia (Colombia), Aurélien Pascal (France), Ivan Karizna (Belarus) and Brannon Cho (US) finished in second to sixth place respectively. Each cellist also received cash prizes donated by organisations ranging from the Belgian Science Policy to the National Lottery.

For the final round of the competition, the musicians were given a week to study a piece specifically composed for the competition, without outside assistance. They each performed the piece and a major concerto of their choice.

The laureates will now perform in a series of concerts in Brussels and Flanders.

Photo: Queen Elisabeth Competition