Benett Tsai, winner of the 2015 Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Instrumental Award for Performance Excellence. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Benett Tsai wins Fine Music Young Virtuosi Award against formidable finalists almost twice his age.
The 12-year-old, winner of the 2015 Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Instrumental Award for Performance Excellence, was among six finalists who performed two pieces each at the Young Virtuosi Award Final in the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on 28 August 2016.
The young cellist from Roseville Chase was awarded $10,000 plus a chance to perform with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2017 and represent Fine Music 102.5 at the MBS National YVA in Melbourne.
Sydney Eisteddfod alumni Julie Kim (harp), Wendy Kong (violin) and Paul Cheung (piano) were also finalists along with Laura Cheung (flute) and Bradley Lucas (euphonium).
Benett said he felt elated to be chosen as the winner as he thought the other candidates were elite musicians.
“I felt incredibly honoured. The very generous prize money and the performance opportunities that it brought will certainly inspire me to continue to work hard, play my best and enjoy music,” he said.
“Being the youngest finalist was actually quite encouraging for me. Sharing the stage with five other elite and mature musicians of high credentials motivated me to give my best to the audience.
“Winning the Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Instrumental Award for Performance Excellence surely boosted my confidence and inspired me to keep improving my playing. It was such an invaluable learning curve for me, which helped prepare me for other challenges.”
Fine Music’s Chair of the Under 30s Committee Michael Fields said the calibre of the competition was of the highest level and the repertoire was very varied.
“Benett gave a breathtaking performance of the second movement of Dvorak’s cello concerto accompanied by his father Joshua Tsai, “ Mr Field said.
“The audience and the adjudicators were impressed by his mature and lyrical account of this piece, which was very musically convincing - for a performer of any age.”
Second place went to 21-year-old harpist Julie Kim with solo pieces by Zabel and Salzedo, while pianist Paul Cheung, 23, placed third with his impressive account of challenging works by Liszt and Prokofiev.
Sydney Eisteddfod is incredibly proud of Benett, Julie, Wendy and Paul and congratulates all finalists.