Christel Lee wins Sibelius Violin Competition

The 11th international Jean Sibelius Violin Competition concluded in Helsinki on Thursday and American musician Christel Lee won the final.

The second prize was given to Austrian Emmanuel Tjeknavorian and the third to German Friederike Starkloff.

The competition was part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). His violin concerto was a compulsory number for all participants.

For the first time since 1975 no Finnish participants qualified for the finals.

Local commentators noted the strong Asian input in the competition. Even though only one of the six finalists, Minami Yoshida was a citizen of an Asian country (Japan), finalists Nancy Zhou, Mayumi Kanagawa and Chistel Lee all had Asian roots.

In her first comment to the media after the results, Lee said that it had been "surreal" to play the Sibelius concerto in front of a Finnish audience.

The winner received 25,000 euros(27,347.08 U.S. dollars). She will perform as soloist with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra on the Sibelius birthday December 8 in his birthtown Hameenlinna and with the Helsinki Philharmonic in Birmingham, UK and Dublin, Ireland later in December.

The chairman of the jury was Finnish Veli-Matti Puumala.

The average age of the finalists was 22 years old.

The Sibelius Violin Competition has been arranged every five years since 1965.

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