Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very proud to welcome you all to the first ever edition of Classic Violin Olympus!
There is no shortage of violin competitions in this day and age, it is true, but with the birth of this competition we are truly marking the beginning of something that has never been tried before, all brought to life in a manner that the violin world has yet to experience.
With six pre-selection contests held in all the music centres around the globe, Classic Violin Olympus is guaranteed to be an exclusive event of the highest level, open only to those musicians who have what it takes to shine on the world stage. These artists will be judged by a panel of the very highest calibre, representing some of the most historic and influential musical institutions of our time, and will be competing head-to-head for an unmatched series of prizes, including a record-breaking monetary prize fund of €300,000!
All these factors are being brought together with one clear goal – to identify the best violinists playing today and give them the resources and exposure they need to forge their career on the global stage.
This goal is why Classic Violin Olympus has been conceived, and it is a mission that we are very excited to be embarking on together with you.
Pavel Vernikov, a student of David Oistrach and S. Snitkowsky, gained a reputation as a virtuoso violinist more than twenty years ago. Among other prizes he won the International ARD Violin Competition in Munich and the Grand Prix at the International Violin Competition “Vittorio Gui” in Florence. He has appeared at such prestigious venues as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, La Salle Gaveau in Paris, La Scala in Milan and Santa Cecilia in Rome.
For the past 30 years he has been a member of the Tchaikovsky Trio.
His artistic partners have included Sviatoslav Richter, James Galway, Alain Meunier, Patrick Gallois, Maria Tipo, Natalia Gutman, Oleg Kagan, Yuri Bashmet, Elisso Virsaladze, Christian Zimmermann and Anthony Pay. He inaugurated the Russian Academy of Higher Learning in Portogruaro and was the Artistic Director of the Gubbio Music Festival, the Dubrovnik Chamber Music Festival and the Eilat Chamber Music Festival.
He teaches and gives masterclasses around the world, in Italy, France, Finland, Spain (Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia Madrid), Israel (Rubin Academy), Germany (Kronberg Academy), etc. and has been invited to be a member of the jury at international competitions (Szigeti, Kreisler, Gui, ARD-Competition in Munich, Sendai (Japan), Budapest, Sarasate, Wieniawski, etc.).
Pavel Vernikov has recorded for RCA, Ondine and Dynamic.
He was a Professor at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique de Lyon. At present he is a Professor at the famous Konservatorium Wien University and at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne (Site de Sion).
Among his many laureate students are people like Massimo Quarta (1. Prize Paganini International Violin Competition, Genua), Fumiaki Miura (1. Prize Hannover International Violin Competition), Lorenza Borrani (Leader of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe), Fanny Clamagirand (1. Prize Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition, Vienna and 1. Prize International Monte Carlo Violin Competition) and Miki Kobayashi (2. Prize Wieniawski Competition).
In 2013 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Sion Festival in Switzerland, and in 2023, he was appointed as the Artistic Director of the Classic Violin Olympus International Competition, whose inaugural edition is set to take place in 2025 in Dubai, UAE.
Pavel Vernikov plays a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, 1757, violin.
Born on the 23rd of January 1970 in Baku, Azerbaijan Konstantin Ishkhanov has now gone on to become one of the world’s leading cultural philanthropists, spearheading countless initiatives around the globe within the realms of classical music, ballet, opera, motion pictures, and many more.
From early life, Konstantin Ishkhanov was surrounded by arts and culture, with his parents both being heavily involved in the sector and fostering an appreciation for cultural heritage that would remain with him all his life.
In later years, he put this appreciation to good use and began to focus his efforts on cultural projects, dedicating himself to the strengthening of international cultural relations and educational development and laying the groundwork for various major projects, many of which have now gone on to become internationally-established endeavours with a wide international following. In addition, Konstantin Ishkhanov is the President of many highly-esteemed competitions. Together, these projects represent some of the most important contemporary entries in the world of music competitions, offering daring new formats, an unprecedented global reach, record-breaking prizes and awards, and jury panels made up of the most celebrated classical music personalities active today.
Konstantin Ishkhanov is also behind the organisation of several major original productions, including ice shows, ballet performances, among many others, and is further involved in hundreds of other projects, ranging from music academies, concerts and conferences to exhibitions, international tours, movies and many more, in various different capacities.
Alexey Shor was born in Ukraine in 1970, immigrated to Israel in 1991, and now lives primarily in the USA.
His compositions have been performed at some of the most prestigious concert halls, including Wiener Musikverein, Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Mariinsky Theatre (St. Petersburg), Kremlin Palace (Moscow), The Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Gasteig (Munich), Wigmore Hall (London), Teatro Argentina (Rome) and many others. Concerts with his music have been broadcast on MediciTV, Mezzo and Euronews. Mr Shor’s music has been showcased on Fox Business News and the websites of Bloomberg News, the New Yorker, Yahoo and the Huffington Post. The Overture to his ballet “Crystal Palace” was performed at the 40th Gramophone Classical Music Awards ceremony in London. In 2018 he has been awarded an honorary professorship at the Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan. In 2022 Mr.Shor has been appointed as Yehudi Menuhin School’s first associate composer.
Mr. Shor’s scores are published by Breitkopf & Hartel, Universal Edition and P.Jurgenson.
CDs with his compositions have been issued by Warner Classics, DECCA, SONY Classics, Naxos, Delos, Berlin Classics and Melodiya.
Mr. Shor is the Composer-In-Residence for the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.
Many internationally acclaimed artists have performed Mr Shor’s music, including (in alphabetical order) Behzod Abduraimov, Salvatore Accardo, Ray Chen, Steven Isserlis, Evgeny Kissin, Denis Kozukhin, Shlomo Mintz, Mikhail Pletnev, Gil Shaham, Yeol Eum Son, Yekwon Sunwoo, Maxim Vengerov, Nikolaj Znaider and many others.
He also holds a Ph.D. in mathematics.
Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan is the Founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra performing internationally to great acclaim. Under Smbatyan’s artistic direction, its players are energetic, enthusiastic musicians with the shared objective of raising cultural awareness in Armenia and pursuing spiritual excellence through classical music.
Smbatyan has presented the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and the Malta Philharmonic throughout Europe, Russia and the United States. Performances include Vienna’s Musikverein, the Berlin Philharmonie, Salzburg’s Großes Festspielhaus, London’s Barbican Centre, the Gasteig Munich, Rudolfinum in Prague, Grand Hall of the Moscow State Conservatory and New York’s Carnegie Hall where he made his debut at the age of 28.
The 2022-23 highlight includes touring with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and the Romanian National Philharmonic Orchestra in the United Kingdom in a series of venues including Cadogan Hall, London; Usher Hall, Edinburgh; Bridgewater Hall, Manchester; Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham.
Born in Yerevan, Smbatyan was first introduced to music by his grandmother, the violinist and teacher Tatyana Hayrapetyan, who gave him violin lessons from an early age. He later studied at the Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan and the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, receiving lessons from Bagrat Vardanyan and Zakhar Bron. Whilst studying for a PhD in Fine Arts in Yerevan with Yuri Davtyan, Smbatyan developed his passion and conducting skills working with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra which he founded aged 18. As a conductor, Smbatyan has been significantly influenced by his lessons with Riccardo Muti and Sir Colin Davis which he undertook during his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
A winner of multiple European conducting and violin competitions, Smbatyan has developed an international reputation that includes guest conducting engagements at the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, and many others.
In 2015, Smbatyan became the youngest recipient of the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. He was presented with the award by the French Minister of Culture attended by Krzysztof Penderecki and Charles Aznavour, among other guests of honour. In recognition of his efforts to promote Armenian music and culture, the President of the Republic of Armenia presented Smbatyan with the title of Honoured Artist of the Republic of Armenia.
Smbatyan’s championing and commissioning living composers, promoting cultural heritage and developing new audiences are central to his artistic life and are reflected in his work as the Founder and Artistic Director of the Armenian Composing Art Festival; the Penderecki Contemporary Classics' Festival; the “Armenia” International Music Festival and the Khachaturian International Festival. The latter has its distinct positioning in Smbatyan’s cultural activities as a calling card for the Armenian performing arts. These values also define his work as Artistic Director of the Khachaturian International Competition.
Smbatyan deeply believes that only culture can shape our future and unite everyone by spreading harmony and peace. This is the main message conveyed in the orchestras he has founded: 24/04 World Orchestra, the “Generation of Independence” All-Armenian Choir and Orchestra and the Pan-Armenian Symphony Orchestra. Smbatyan’s passionate advocacy for increasing the level of cultural education and engagement, and social responsibility among young people was fulfilled by founding the UNICEF Children’s Chamber Orchestra and DasA, an educational program for high school students offering a close-up experience with classical music.
Sergey Smbatyan founded the "Music for Future" Cultural Foundation (M4FF) in 2019 and has been the President of its Board of Trustees since then․
A recognised pioneer in the uses of AI and other technologies in classical music, Smbatyan has developed multiple collaborations with leading institutions. As part of the 2019 World Congress of Information Technology he conducted the first-ever concert of music written live by AI. An audience of over 75,000 people watched the open-air concert performed by the WCIT World Orchestra, a specially created orchestra of players from the fifteen countries that had ever hosted the Congress.
A creative concert programmer, Smbatyan has worked with the world’s leading soloists and actors including John Malkovich who performed and toured with him several projects in Latin America, Asia and Armenia including narrating excerpts from The Book of Lamentations by the Armenian medieval poet Grigor Narekatsi.
Smbatyan’s discography is rich and includes many recordings for ArmSyphony Records including Khachaturian’s Symphony No.2, The Bell, which was made to celebrate the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra’s 15th anniversary. The recent collaboration included the release of Joseph Calleja’s new album of sacred music AVE MARIA with Decca Records.
A particular focus of Smbatyan’s recording activities is contemporary music which he primarily records with the Armenian State Symphony and Malta Philharmonic orchestras, alongside other orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra.
Sergey Smbatyan has been UNICEF Armenia Ambassador since 2023.
Thank you for your interest in attending and covering Classic Violin Olympus International Violin Competition in Dubai. The Competition Press Office grants press accreditation to a limited number of journalists. Accredited press receive limited complimentary screening tickets.
The press credential application process for the 2025 Competition is currently open and closes on January 10th. We review every complete application submitted by the deadline. No preference is given to those who apply early, but late applications will not be considered. We will notify all applicants of their status at the end of March. Given the high number of applicants, we are not able to accommodate everyone.
To apply for press accreditation, submit the form below:
In early 2017, Konstantin Ishkhanov, together with Karen Shahgaldyan, conceived of putting together a new music competition with a difference, aimed at discovering and supporting the most talented young musicians of our time. A few months later, in May 2018, this ambitious idea came to fruition, resulting in the First Edition of the Classic Strings International Cello and Violin Competition.
The inaugural edition of Classic Strings took place in Riga, Latvia, between the 10th and 17th of May. Full attention was given to the smallest of details, starting from the host country itself, with Riga being chosen due to its status as one of the oldest and most prestigious cultural centres of Europe. Announcing its entry onto the world stage with a flourish, this first iteration of Classic Strings immediately attracted the attention of music lovers all around the world, with a jury board featuring preeminent stars including Boris Andrianov, Dmitry Yablonsky and Meehae Ryo, amongst others, and a groundbreaking total prize fund of €40,000.
In 2019 Classic Strings moved from being the new kid on the block to becoming one of the major players on the global music scene, and the organisers responded by raising the stakes for practically every factor of the event. Taking place in the Austrian capital of Vienna from the 11th to the 18th of May, this iteration of Classic Strings opened up the stage to not just violinists and cellists, but also violists as well, with these three separate contests each offering participants monetary prizes amounting to €47,000, for a staggering total prize fund of €141,000! So vast in scope was this project that it did not merely have one artistic director, but an entire artistic board, namely Soon-Deog Kwon, Igor Petrushevski, and Christian Schulz. Apart from changes to the venue, competition format, and prize fund, Classic Strings 2019 also saw a shift in participation numbers, with the success of the 2018 edition attracting more than 200 young musicians from all over the world to Vienna, firmly establishing the contest as one of the most exciting new events in the sector.
2022 saw Classic Strings reach new milestones, with the competition helping to spearhead the influx of classical music into the global city that is Dubai, UAE. Coming into the emirate on the back of a sterling reputation in Europe, the contest helped to bring countless cultural tourists to Dubai for the first time, while also inspiring young musicians across the Middle East and beyond with the largest strings competition that the region had ever seen. Held from the 9th to the 23rd of May, this edition was the longest in the competition’s history, with Dmitry Yablonsky returning to the event once more to take the helm as Artistic Director. Consisting of two separate contests for violin and cello, Classic Strings 2022 saw the most distinguished panel of jurors of any contemporary string competition preside over the event, with legendary artists including Martin T:son Engstroem, Andrey Baranov, Pavel Berman, Zakhar Bron, Boris Kuschnir, Dora Schwarzberg and Avi Shoshani judging the violin competition, and Dominique de Williencourt, Boris Andrianov, Alexander Chaushian, Julian Lloyd Webber, and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, amongst others, evaluating performances in the cello rounds. Musicians from around the world flocked to Dubai to take part in the event, with the organisers upping the ante once more by offering a €320,000 total prize fund to the most accomplished amongst them.
A mere seven years after its debut, Classic Strings has now enjoyed such a meteoric rise that it has been deemed to be too vast a project to host in just one event. To this end, the organisers took the decision to split Classic Strings into separate events, each dedicated solely to one instrument, thereby allowing all stakeholders to focus their full efforts and attention on that particular contest. For this first phase of its new life, the instrument chosen is the violin, with Classic Violin Olympus 2025 marking the inauguration of this new standalone competition. This focus on a single instrument has freed organisers to take the contest to a hitherto unimagined level, with six pre-selection contests being held in all fours corners of the globe, all leading up to the invite-only Grand Finale in Dubai. The acclaimed Pavel Vernikov will be taking on the role of Artistic Director, with a 23-person jury board consisting of the conductors and directors of some of the most esteemed musical institutions of our time presiding over the performances themselves. Participants, all of whom are award-winners at one of the pre-selection contests, will be in with a chance of sharing in the €310,000 total prize fund that will be on offer, along with a series of special prizes and awards, including the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be selected by one of the jury members to join in live performance at one of their future contests.