MSM faculty member Lucie Robert has a busy teaching schedule at MSM and is a sought-after judge for high-profile international strings competitions. She talks to us about the judging process and the challenges of being on a jury of important competitions.
Lucie Robert’s students have gone on to win major prizes, be placed in important orchestras around the world, and take part in critically acclaimed recordings. She’s now frequently travelling around the world to sit on the juries of high-profile international strings competitions.
What recent and upcoming juries you have been taking part in recent years?
Lucie Robert: “During the past year I’ve been quite busy, having had the honor of adjudicating three international violin competitions: the 2021 Isang Yun International Violin Competition in Tongyeong City, South Korea; the 2022 XII International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland; and the 10th International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists in Weimar, Germany. I’ll be be returning this coming April to my hometown of Montreal to be a jury member of the Concours Musical International de Montréal Violin 2023. I had the pleasure of serving on that jury previously in 2006.”
Photo: Lucie Robert (fourth from left) with other jury members at the 10th International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists in Weimar, Germany.
What is your role on these juries? What are you looking for in a participating artist?
Lucie Robert: “Being a juror in an international competition is a huge responsibility and it is one that I never take lightly. Of course, we always hope to find the next greatest violinist, someone who will survive the test of time and have a huge career. As these are international competitions, we all expect an extremely high level of technical command, but that is only the start. For me, I want to hear an artist – one who has a clear musical voice, who keeps my interest and moves me. Basically, someone I would want to spend money to hear perform in any great hall in the world. This is always my wish.”
Can you give us a behind the scenes understanding of the process during the deliberations?
Lucie Robert: “Every competition is unique since each one has different jury members and slightly different rules. Having said this, this is what generally happens: Generally there are three rounds – preliminary, semi-finals and finals. Each jury member writes down their impressions of the competitors’ performances for their own reference and then grades them according to the numeric scale established by that competition. This is very important because when you have more than 60 participants in the first round and you need to narrow the field to 12 competitors or fewer for the semi-final, and so you had better remember whom you liked! The same thing happens in the second round. Up to this point, deliberation has not yet taken place. In the final round, which is usually a performance of a concerto with orchestra, sometimes there’s a tie, so the president of the jury might open up deliberation amongst the judges.”
What is the greatest challenge about being a judge on a jury?
Lucie Robert: “When you’ve been teaching for many years and are so familiar with most of the violin repertoire that’s being performed, it can be difficult to hear an interpretation of one of those pieces that’s different from what you’re accustomed to. I try to keep an open mind and if the performance is musically intelligent, makes sense stylistically, and is sincere in its musical conviction, it will win me over. Of course, this is all very subjective.”
“Being a juror in an international competition is a huge responsibility and it is one that I never take lightly.”
MSM violin faculty member
Several of your students have had major successes recently, can you tell us about this?
Lucie Robert: “It has of course been a very difficult and challenging time for our students because of the pandemic. I am very happy that two of my students just won major orchestra positions: Lumeng Yang with the National Center Orchestra of the Performing Arts in Beijing, and Guolong Wang with the China National Symphony Orchestra. Current PPD student Maïthéna Girault performed for the second year in a row with the Sphynx Virtuosi in three different tours including an appearance at Carnegie Hall as assistant principal second violin. Next semester, current third year undergraduate student, Risa Hokamura, also a student of Koichiro Harada, will be giving both her New York and Washington debuts as winner of the Young Concert Artists auditions.”
Why would you recommend MSM to an aspiring professional violinist? What makes MSM special in your opinion?
Lucie Robert: “MSM is a special place – incredibly vibrant, diverse, and at the same time a very caring school. This is not an easy balance to find when the performance and talent level is so high, and the school is located in one of the most intense cities in the world! The faculty is superb and extremely caring and passionate about their talent and about helping them. I think it’s the ideal environment for students to study and grow and get a real taste of professional artistic life in the heart of this great city. A life in music and art is what we aspire to have, but it is also very competitive and can be harmful for some. For me, MSM is the great music school with a heart, and that’s what makes the difference.”
“For me, MSM is the great music school with a heart, and that’s what makes the difference.”
MSM violin faculty member