2020 Shanghai Isaac Stern Competition Is Open for Applications

By Stephanie Powell

The third iteration of the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition, which offers a $100,000 grand prize, is scheduled to run from August 4-23, 2020. The 2020 installment of SISIVC will celebrate Isaac Stern’s centennial, and culminate with a special gala concert on August 25.

The application process is now open (click here to apply), and must be filled out by January 20, 2020. The video portion of the application has a deadline of February 28, 2020. The competition is open to violinists all over the world between the ages of 16 through 32.


The competition is co-chaired by conductor David Stern and violinist and pedagogue Vera Tsu Weiling. The 13-member jury will include both co-chairs alongside: artist manager Martin Campell-White, violinist, former New York Phil concertmaster, and pedagogue Glenn Dicterow, director of programs at the Philharmonie de Paris Emmanuel Hondré; violinist and founding member of the Shanghai Quartet Weigang Li; violinist Ning Feng; violinist, pedagogue, and founding member of the Emerson String Quartet Philip Setzer; violinists and pedagogues Hagai Shaham, Joel Smirnoff, Kyoko Takezawa; violinist Maxim Vengerov, and cellist Jian Wang.

The gala concert will pay tribute to the documentary From Mao to Mozart, which follows Isaac Stern’s 1979 tour throughout China. The concert will also feature special performance by some SISIVC laureates and musicians Isaac Stern coached in the documentary, including jury member Jian Wang.

“Maestro Stern had long used his musicianship to build cultural bridges and he came to China as the first Western musician since the beginning of the nation’s reform and opening-up,” Fedina Zhou, executive president of the organization committee and president of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, says. “We developed this competition in a way to honor his legacy and to continue his lifelong dedication to fostering talent and sharing music. So, in addition to the traditional Isaac Stern Humanitarian Award, we decided to present this memorial concert.”

The competition remains dedicated to commissioning new Chinese works with Violin Concerto No. 2, a new piece by composer Zhou Tian, artist-in-residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra for the 2019/20 season. It has also added a new category for participants: Best Chinese Work Performance Award.

For more information on the 2020 competition visit shcompetition.com/en.