Having spent some time with child prodigy guitarists in China, the following article in the Spectator struck a resonant chord with me – probably putting a strain on my own sense of loyalty as well as East-West relationships!
NYGE is also no stranger to the Yehudi Menuhin School (which has a similar background ethos to the Menuhin Test). As well as using the school for our courses and concerts, we have also had talented musicians from its students.
‘The truth is,’ says Gordon Back (the legendary accompanist for Yehudi Menuhin) , lowering his voice, ‘that if the violin finalists from the BBC Young Musician of the Year were to enter the Menuhin Competition, they wouldn’t make it to the first round.’ Not through the first round, note, but to the first round: they wouldn’t be good enough to compete.
Back is artistic director of the Menuhin, held every two years in a different country. In effect, it’s a search for the next Yehudi Menuhin, who recorded the Elgar concerto with the composer at the age of 15.
Contentious words and I often wonder about why Eastern musicians have taken so readily to Western classical music. It isn’t a question of lack of cultural background either.