“How does one most successfully plan what repertoire to play when balancing many competitions and concerts?” We asked Stuttgart International Violin Competition winner, Eva Rabchevska
Ukrainian violinist Eva Rabchevska won first prize at the 2021 Stuttgart International Violin Competition, in Stuttgart, Germany. Hosted by the Stuttgart University of Music and Performing Arts and the Guadagnini Foundation, the next edition of the competition will be hosted in 2024.
While many young violinists prepare applications for competitions like the Stuttgart Competition, they may have questions on how to choose repertoire and balance the many performance opportunities that come their way. The Violin Channel had the privilege to get Eva’s expert tips on the subject.
“Choosing repertoire for competitions is a very important step in preparation, especially when combining several competitions/festivals in a short period of time. When it comes to selecting a variety of repertoire, I would suggest picking pieces that can work for many different concerts/competitions. It is important to choose repertoire you feel confident about and that can express versatile sides of your creativity and musicality.
Of course, different competitions require different compulsory works. We most frequently see contemporary music, which might be quite challenging to work on in a short time. My suggestion would be to start and concentrate your time on practicing pieces you are less familiar and comfortable with. Contemporary music very often needs time to be read calmly, to decide on fingerings, bowings, phrasing, and harmonic structure. Put simply, you need to get used to the new musical language of composer. Meanwhile, in your practice routine, you can incorporate works you feel more confident about and need less time to bring into shape.
On a daily basis, it’s impossible to have in your hands a huge amount of repertoire for different competitions. Therefore mental practicing, listening to recordings, analyzing, and making notes in your score will be really helpful and save you from over practicing.
The next important step in your preparation is running through the repertoire. This will help to discover the unexpected challenges one might face during the actual performance and work out the endurance. First, I would suggest playing the works you are less confident about in front of your friends or colleagues.
Especially with contemporary music, it would be ideal if your friends could follow the score during your performance so they can give you some honest opinions and advice. Next, you can try to play through entire rounds of a competition to see how to better distribute your power and find which order of pieces would be the most convenient. If you have a chance to perform in front of the public, try to incorporate as many competition pieces as possible, especially those with orchestra or chamber music works.
Very often in my case, there was no chance to perform final round concerto or compulsory piece with orchestra at least once before the competition. In this situation, the general score should become your best friend. Try to indicate the spots that might potentially be challenging when playing with an orchestra. While playing, try to imagine the harmonic structure of the piece and the voices and themes of other instruments. You should also take into consideration the specifics of different orchestra instruments: the dynamic range, articulation, and sound color they have. Therefore, your part will always be within the context of those details.
In the end, it’s most important to prioritize your mental health. Preparing huge programs is always overwhelming. There is a danger of losing yourself in a practice room for the whole day and concentrating too much on perfection. Don’t forget to live and experience things, meet with friends, and spend some quality time with your family. Otherwise, what can you express through your playing if you don’t experience real life?
A graduate of the Bratislava State Conservatory, in Slovakia, and current student of Zakhar Bron at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, in Madrid, Eva is a former major prize winner at the Carl Flesch and Karol Lipinski International Violin Competitions. She was also one of twelve finalists at the prestigious 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition.
Upon winning the Stuttgart Competition, Eva received €25,000, plus a number of important orchestral debut solo performances, including concerto engagements with the Stuttgart Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Symphoniker Hamburg, the Philharmonie Südwestfalen, the Orchestra of the Symphoniker Nürnberg, the Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie Chemnitz, the Mecklenburgische Staatskapelle Schwerin, and the Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra.
She was also offered a three-year use of a 1746 Giovanni Battista Guadagnini fine violin — on generous loan from the Guadagnini Foundation collection.
She will perform concerts with the Mecklenburg State Orchestra in the Mecklenburg State Theater in Schwerin on January 1 and 7, 2023.