Dutchess County Executive's Arts Awards 2023
Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Competition Committee
The Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Competition has been a highlight of the Hudson Valley cultural scene for more than 50 years. It was originally started as a way to find string players for the orchestra. Begun under Hudson Valley Philharmonic Maestro Claude Monteux in the 1960s, the annual competition attracts outstanding violin, viola and cello students from Juilliard, New England Conservatory, Curtiss and many other prominent music conservatories. “We are very fortunate to be so close to New York City and Boston, so we can attract so many really talented students,” says says Paul Stoddard, part of the all-volunteer committee that coordinates all logistics and planning. “Sometimes we even get students flying in from Europe.”
Winners have gone on to become professional performers and teachers. “Some winners have become quite famous,” says Paul. “Many of them are professionals or teachers or both.” Notable winners include: violist Marcus Thompson ’67 (Boston Chamber Players), violinist Ani Kavafian ’73 (Lincoln Center Chamber Players soloist), violinist Adela Pena ’85 (Eroica Trio), violinist Judith Ingolfsson ’96 (1998 Indianapolis International Violin Competition winner), and cellist Dahae Kim 2010, (Los Angeles Philharmonic, second principal).
The competition is held on the campus of Vassar College each March; the winner plays with the Philharmonic at the Bardavon Opera House during the next season. Generous donors fund the prizes and operating costs.
In 2020 and 2021 the competition was held remotely. “That was challenging, but we pulled it off,” says Paul. In 2020 Randall Fleischer, the conductor of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic passed away suddenly. “In honor of him, we instituted a new prize where musicians could record a pop or rock song. One girl did Scottish fiddling music; she was on the cello and her sister was on the violin. We got some really fantastic entries.”