The 45th Annual William C. Byrd International Young Artist Competition took place on March 5, showcasing the best in string musicians. Twenty-five contestants auditioned, and five finalists were selected by three judges to perform in the evening program. The winner of the Competition is Xiao Wang, a violinist from China who is currently studying at the Manhattan School of Music in New York.
In addition to his recent win, Xiao also won the 2012 Szigeti International Violin Competition and the 2015 Seoul International Competition, and received the laureate distinction at the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Violin Competition. “I enjoy being a very loyal servant of music and being a narrator to tell the story,” he shares.
Xiao began playing violin at five years old. His first teacher was his aunt, and by age ten, he was studying at the Central Conservatory in Beijing. “I discovered the sound of a violin is very close to human voice,” Xiao says. “No matter what language people speak, I can always talk to them with my violin and my music.”
Xiao has also earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Through his studies, he has found many great master works that he adores playing. “I enjoy playing Bach, Beethoven and Brahms’ music very much!” he exclaims. “I can always discover something new when practicing or performing their works.” At the Byrd Competition, Xiao performed Concerto in D Minor by Sibelius. “It is a masterpiece in the violin repertoire, and it is full of colors and emotions,” Xiao adds. With his first place title, he was awarded a $6,000 prize and the opportunity to perform with the Flint Symphony Orchestra on April 22, 2017. “I was very excited to win this year’s Byrd Competition,” he says. “And I enjoyed sharing the stage with many good musicians, too. It was a very difficult decision for the judges. I heard the final round and everyone was so well-prepared and very mature musically.”
The William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition is sponsored by the St. Cecilia Society of Flint, and produced completely by volunteers. As for his short time spent in Flint, it seems to have made an impression. “I had a great time staying in Flint,” Xiao says. “It was my first trip to Michigan and I felt very welcomed.”
Currently, Xiao is in New York, working as a teaching assistant for the Manhattan School of Music. “I will keep sharing my knowledge and experiences with the younger generation of musicians,” Xiao shares. “I will help them to overcome the obstacles in their musical journey.”
Photos provided by Xiao Wang and by Eric Dutro