Kaylin Liu started rehearsing for the Peabody Conservatory’s Marbury Competition for Undergraduate Violinists in October. It requires entrants to prepare two rounds of repertoire—a preliminary one featuring any work(s) totaling no more than 15 minutes to showcase technical command and artistry, and a final one featuring a concert-length program of 50 minutes or more. The second-year violin student turned to Alexander Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82 for her preliminary round and Nathan Milstein’s Paganiniana (Variations) for Solo Violin; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Adagio in E major, K. 261 for Violin and Piano; Camille Saint-Saëns’ Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75 for Violin and Piano; Henryk Wieniawski’s Légende, Op. 17; and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34 as her concert-length pieces, in case she made it to the final round of the day-long competition.
During the competition, judges will interrupt a piece once they’ve heard enough and “then select whatever they want to hear from your prepared rep,” Liu says. When she was called back for the final round, she started with Paganiniana. She was then asked to play a bit of the Mozart, then a bit of the Saint-Saëns, and then a bit of Légende—“and that was when a string broke,” Liu recalls, adding that she had to fix it before continuing.
Judges Xiang Gao, Jeffrey Howard, and Oleg Rylatko named Liu the 2022 Marbury Undergraduate Violin Competition winner, an award that includes the $1,000 grand prize and the March 12 recital in the Hilda and Douglas Goodwin Recital Hall, where Liu performs her competition program. Josephine Kim, a student of Peabody Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Vadim Gluzman, came in second.
Liu, a student of Peabody violin professor Keng-Yuen Tseng, grew up outside Chicago, where she was concertmaster of the DuPage Youth Symphony Orchestra and made her Camerata Chicago Academy Orchestra debut at age 13, and was featured in violin ensemble group from her regional Suzuki school that toured China in 2013. The Marbury isn’t her first competition prize—she claimed the 32nd Annual Chippewa Valley Symphony Young Artist Competition in 2020—though she dryly jokes that she was a bit of a late bloomer. “Usually people start music training when they’re 3 or they’re 4 years old,” she says. “I started when I was 7 and a half.”
The Marbury Prize is one of many Peabody-sponsored competitions that take place during the academic year. In December, Jacqueline Audas, a graduate student of Vadim Gluzman, was named the 2021-22 Yale Gordon Competition for Strings prize winner and performs an April 23 recital as part of the Shriver Hall Concert Series at the Baltimore Museum of Art, as well as performing with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra during the 2022-23 concert season. Also in December, senior Victoria Frances Young was named the 2021-22 Harrison Winter Piano Competition winner, and will perform as part of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra’s April 9 concert in Friedberg Hall. And both the graduate and undergraduate winners of the 2021-22 Art Song Competition that took place in November—undergrads John Arliesky, Katelyn Cherry, Nathan Song, and Marina Bien-Aime and graduates Olivia Heaner, Olivia Heinrich, Eunil Cho, and Syrena Torres—perform at the Friday Noon:30 Concert Series in Goodwin Hall on April 8.
“School competitions are a great starting point to thinking about going down a more serious competition route,” Liu says. “I do plan on pursuing some competitions in the future, and from there, we’ll see what happens. Right now, I just want to learn as much as I can, to get as much experience as I can, to be a well-rounded musician. You don’t just have to focus on performing your solo repertoire. There’s chamber orchestra and many different ensembles and artists here. There are computer music majors, there are all these Music for New Media majors, and they all have projects going on and are always looking for musicians. It’s good to bridge out.”
Kaylin Liu performs a solo recital of Nathan Milstein’s Paganiniana (Variations) for Solo Violin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Adagio in E major, K. 261 for Violin and Piano, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75 for Violin and Piano, Henryk Wieniawski’s Légende, Op. 17, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34 accompanied by pianist Hui-Chuan Chen (MM ’06, DMA ’14, Piano) in the Hilda and Douglas Goodwin Hall March 12 at 7:30 pm EST; it will be livestreamed.