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The 2011 Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, featuring 24 young violinists, takes place at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music August 11 - 19

Jul 13, 2011

OBERLIN, OHIO (July 13, 2011) — The Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Orchestra are pleased to present the 2nd annual Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition. Building on the historic relationship between the two institutions, this international event will enhance educational opportunities for young musicians by offering scholarships, cash prizes, and the chance to perform in concert venues across the globe.

On August 11, 2011, 24 of the world’s most promising young violinists will converge on the Oberlin College campus to take part in the week long competition that culminates in a final, concerto round performance with The Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall. Musicians between the ages of 13 and 18 will also vie for three full scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, pending admission, and more than $20,000 in total prize money; the first-prize winner will receive $10,000 and concert engagements with orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai, China.

The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition debuted in summer 2010 for pianists, followed by this year’s competition for violinists, and will alternate annually between the two instruments thereafter.
The competition is sponsored by Thomas and Evon Cooper, who reside near Boston. Mr. Cooper, a 1978 Oberlin College graduate and a member of Oberlin’s Board of Trustees, is a partner in the Boston investment firm of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Company; his wife, Evon, is a pianist and private piano teacher.

“My wife Evon and I are thrilled to be part of this exciting endeavor,” says Thomas Cooper. “We believe that it is important to encourage and support young artists in pursuing their musical aspirations, and we hope that the Cooper Competition serves to identify and showcase top youth talent from around the world for many years to come.”

“For an aspiring musician, there is no greater thrill than performing with one of the world's great orchestras,” says Dean of the Conservatory David H. Stull. “This gift from the Cooper family will provide an extraordinary and unparalleled opportunity for young violinists and pianists from around the world. We are deeply honored that Tom and Evon have chosen the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Orchestra as hosts for this remarkable competition.”

“This initiative of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music invigorates our historic relationship,” says Gary Hanson, Executive Director of The Cleveland Orchestra. “We are pleased that our orchestra and the Severance Hall stage will be integral to the Cooper Competition, and we look forward to welcoming its gifted young musicians to Cleveland.”

Gregory Fulkerson, professor of violin at Oberlin, will direct this year’s violin competition. “I am very proud that the Oberlin conservatory, with the outstanding commitment of the Cooper family, has taken this visionary step towards discovering and promoting the violin stars of the next generation,” says Fulkerson. “I am especially excited about Oberlin’s unique partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra, which provides the ideal format for what is recognized as a major international competition.”

The aspiring young artists hail from countries around the world including Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, South Korea, Japan, China, and regions across the United States. This year’s distinguished panel of judges includes Gregory Fulkerson, from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and chairman of the jury for the 2011 Cooper International Violin Competition; David Bowlin, assistant professor of violin at Oberlin and founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble; David Cerone, former president of the Cleveland Institute of Music; Fan Tao, conductor of the China National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra; Dora Schwarzberg, from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna; Tong Weidong, director of violin studies at the Central Conservatory Middle School in Beijing; Almita Vamos, professor of violin at Northwestern University and the Music Institute of Chicago; and Milan Vitek, professor of violin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

In addition to a preliminary round that was held on April 30 through May 2 in Beijing, China, young violinists interested in entering the 2011 Cooper Competition first submit video recorded auditions of repertoire specified in the online application at Twenty-four competitors are chosen to perform in three live rounds at the Oberlin conservatory beginning on Saturday, August 13. The final three musicians will advance to the finals at Severance Hall, where they will perform a full concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday, August 19. The top three musicians will win $10,000, $6,000, and $3,000, respectively, and those in fourth, fifth, and sixth place will be awarded $1,000 each. The final three will also be awarded full scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, pending admission, valued at more than $150,000 each. The audience will award an additional $500 in cash to one of the finalists, selected by popular vote. In addition to prize money, the first-prize winner will receive concert engagements with orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai, China.

“The intent of all of these prizes,” says last year’s piano competition director Robert Shannon, professor of piano and director of keyboard studies at Oberlin, “is to recognize and encourage outstanding young musicians, and to establish the Cooper Competition as one of the foremost competitions of its kind.” In addition to the experiences gained by performing under the rigors of a multi-round event, competitors are also invited to take private lessons and participate in master classes, which are offered by Oberlin faculty and competition judges. “The partnership of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music allows us to create a unique event: a high-level competition with opportunities for enrichment and education for everyone.”

Preliminary and two final rounds of the violin competition are open to the public, giving Ohioans a chance to hear some of the most promising young violinists in the world perform with an internationally renowned orchestra. A complete schedule is available at Admission for the preliminary rounds and the recital final round is free; the latter takes place in the conservatory's Warner Concert Hall on Wednesday, August 17, at 7:00 p.m., hosted by Robert Conrad, president of WCLV, Cleveland’s classical music radio station. The event will be broadcast live on 104.9-FM WCLV and on

The concerto final round on Friday, August 19 at Severance Hall, will also be broadcast live on WCLV and hosted by Robert Conrad. The program begins at 8 p.m., with Jahja Ling conducting The Cleveland Orchestra and the top three finalists. Box seats are $25, dress circle seats are $20, and orchestra seats are $15; all seats are reserved. The Severance Hall Ticket Office is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141 for more information or online at

Applications and details for both the violin and piano competitions are posted on the Oberlin web site, at

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