Our rising stars shine in Beijing

5 April 2012

(L-R) Anna Lisa Da Silva Chen, 15 and Grace Clifford, 13, will be competing in the 'Olympics for young violinists'.
(L-R) Anna Lisa Da Silva Chen, 15 and Grace Clifford, 13, will be competing in the 'Olympics for young violinists'.

Two young students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music will be spending this Easter in Beijing competing in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, commonly regarded as the 'Olympics for young violinists'.

Friends Grace Clifford, 13, and Anna Lisa Da Silva Chen, 15, will be competing against 20 other players from around the world in the junior competition.

The girls study under the same teacher, lecturer and violinist Robin Wilson, as students at the Conservatorium's Open Academy Rising Stars, a program that provides tuition and support for gifted young musicians.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald about the competition, Mr Wilson said Anna and Grace "both have very expressive personalities, well developed technique and compelling stage presence.

"As musicians they both have an intuitive sense of phrasing and character that is rare for their age. And each has a beautiful, but unique sound."

Joy Lee, the artistic coordinator, at the Rising Stars program, described having two students selected from the program for the competition in one year as a "real coup".

Grace began learning the violin at four-and-a-half and completed all the Suzuki levels by the age of 10. She studies at the academically selective private school Abbotsleigh Girls School, where she plays first violin in the symphony orchestra, the chamber strings and the string quartet.

Anna, a Year 9 student at Sydney Distance Education High School, took up the violin seven years ago. Like Grace, she is a scholarship student in the Rising Stars program. Last year she won the Kendall National Violin Competition, where she also received the Audience Choice Award and Peter Lee Memorial Award.

The Open Academy Rising Stars program

Currently there are 98 young Australian music students, aged between 5 and 18, enrolled in the Rising Star program. It is designed to develop their exceptional natural abilities to their full potential.

To be admitted to the program applicants must pass a rigorous audition. Lessons are given by some of Australia's most distinguished musicians and teachers in Australia, including graduates of leading academies worldwide.

Rising Star students perform in public concerts held every Saturday morning during semester at 11am. For more details, visit the Conservatorium Open Academy website.

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