Benett Tsai has done it again! The 13-year-old cellist impressed the judges at the Fine Music Network’s Young Virtuoso of the Year Award competition against some of Australia’s best instrumentalists aged under 25 years.
He won the event, hosted by 3MBS Fine Music at St Johns Southgate in Melbourne on November 26, and a $10,000 cash prize. Also participating in the final was Forest Lake pianist Aaron Liu, a finalist in the 2016 Allison/Henderson Sydney Eisteddfod Piano Scholarship.
The judges noted the high calibre of finalists but were particularly impressed by Benett’s performance of David Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody and the second movement from Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. Judge Hoang Pham said the judging panel generally looks for someone who has “that something extra”.
“Of course [we look for] talent and musicality, but very often you’ll find there’s one person there that stands out that little bit more,” he said.
“It’s very hard to describe but you know it when you feel it, hear it, and see it”.
Benett, the winner of the 2015 Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Instrumental Award for Performance Excellence, has had an incredible year already taking home the $10,000 prize as the winner of the Young Virtuoso of the Year Award in August.
He said he felt very honoured to be the national winner.
“I was quite glad that I represented my State NSW and the Fine Music 102.5 well,” he said.
“The strong adjudication panel and the very appreciative and the enthusiastic audience motivated me to play my very best. I am thankful for all the opportunities given to me and certainly motivated to explore further as a cellist.”
When asked what his plans are for the $20,000 in prizes he won this year, Benett said he would save it for his future cello studies.
“It is a lot of money and means so much to me. I am grateful for the generosity of the sponsors who have the passion to raise up young musicians like me,” he concluded.