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Violinist Wins Prestigious Competition But Won’t Shake Juror’s Hand

By Sara Schabas on June 10, 2024

Dmytro Udovychenko
Dmytro Udovychenko (Photo: Queen Elisabeth Competition – Thomas Léonard)

The 25-year-old violinist Dmytro Udovychenko won first prize in Belgium’s prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition last week. But the young violinist is also making waves for his political stance as he refused to shake the hand of Russian-born jury member Vadim Repin.

Driving the news: The 2024 Queen Elisabeth Competition was the 20th edition to feature violinists from around the world. From May 6th to June 1st, over 60 pre-selected violinists travelled to Flagey, Brussels to compete for the Queen Mathilde Grand Prize of €25,000 as well as numerous performance opportunities around Belgium. This year’s winner was the 25-year-old Dymtro Udovychenko of Ukraine, already a winner at competitions including Montreal, Sibelius, Josef Joachim, and Singapore.

Some background: Dymtro Udovychenko trained at the Kharkiv Specialized Music Boarding School in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where his parents currently live. Throughout the competition, Udovychenko spoke to his parents by phone as the bombs and shells of a Russian offensive against Kharkiv could be heard in the distance. Udovychenko resultantly suffered stress and anxiety, his father explained via social media.

The young violinist admitted in an interview that it didn’t feel right to shake the hand of the Russian-born juror Vadim Repin when accepting his prize, due to Repin’s close ties to the Russian government. Repin directs the Trans Siberian Arts Festival, which receives support from the Cultural Ministry of the Russian Federation. His wife, the ballerina Svetlana Zakharova, is also closely affiliated with the Putin administration.

Missed the finals? Check out Udovychenko and the other young stars’ performances here.

Sara Schabas
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