Richard Lin - 2018 Violin Competition of Indianapolis Gold Medalist




Richard Lin Credit: Sophie Zhai

Richard Lin Credit: Sophie Zhai


There have been a slew of important international violin competitions this year, such as the George Enescu, Joseph Joachim, Fritz Kreisler, Long-Thibaud-Crespin, Naumburg and of course the 10th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (IVCI), that took place August 31-September 16 – of which Richard Lin received the gold medal.

Lin isn’t just a rising star; he already is a star. The 27-year-old was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Taiwan, where he studied violin from the age of four. He came to the US in 2008 and continued with Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music and Lewis Kaplan at The Juilliard School. In September, he won gold at the IVCI, a respected venue that attracts and promotes young talents, as evidenced from a roster of former prize winners that include Augustin Hadelich, Jinjoo Cho, Leonidas Kavakos, Benjamin Beilman and Ida Kavafian. In fact, Risa Hokamura, Silver Medalist of the 2018 IVCI is a winner of the recent Young Concert Artists Auditions.

Also of interest is IVCI’s inclusion of a commissioned work by composers of our time as part of its repertoire requirements, such as Rochberg, Lutoslawski, Rorem, Danielpour, Tower, Zwilich – and this year Bolcom. Since 2011, Lin has either won or received top prizes at prestigious international competitions including the Michael Hill, Sendai (where he won first prize in 2013), Joseph Joachim, Singapore, Shanghai Isaac Stern and Henryk Wieniawski.

He has performed throughout Taiwan, Japan and enjoys numerous concert appearances in the US, Germany, Canada, Finland and Poland. He has already recorded works for orchestra with the Sendai Philharmonic and the Brahms Sonata for Piano and Violin with brother Robert Lin – both on the Fontec label. His career got another jump start as winner of the IVCI, which offers four years of concert management. And there will undoubtedly be more to come from this commanding violinist.

Richard Lin talks with Editor Leonne Lewis about his studies and career plans.

Could you describe some of the main differences in the teaching approach of Aaron Rosand and Lewis Kaplan?

Mr. Rosand and Mr. Kaplan are very different types of mentors. With several decades of having an international solo career, Mr. Rosand is one of a few violinists who have performed almost everything in the violin repertoire. I remember that when I was at the Curtis Institute, he always got my admiration for being able to demonstrate from memory everything I brought to the lesson. He is also one of the few who still possesses the old school tradition of playing – of which I am deeply influenced by. In my opinion, portamento is the best tool to express music and Mr. Rosand is the one who inspires me so much with this. On the other hand, Mr. Kaplan is the most knowledgeable person I have ever met and he has so much teaching experience. He surprises me with the most interesting musical ideas and always supports me so much.

Do you think competitions are important for career advancement?

Competitions for me are challenges that motivate me tremendously. I also think they are the most efficient way to share my music with the world, thanks to live streaming technology. I’ve traveled to so many countries, embraced different cultures and made so many friends through competitions. I do think that nowadays, participating in competitions is good exposure, which may help a career. But I also know that winning is only the beginning since many factors are involved in maintaining a lasting career.

Why did you choose to play Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 in the Violin Competition of Indianapolis Finals?

When I was twelve, I first heard the melody of the 3rd movement of Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy in the Chinese movie “Together” (2002), and I immediately fell in love with the piece. Even to this day, I still consider it the best theme ever written, but I have never seen it appear as one of the options for any competition finals. Thus, when I saw it on the repertoire list of the 2018 Violin Competition of Indianapolis, I chose it even though it may not be the best piece for the finals. I knew making this decision was risky, not to mention that I had never performed it with an orchestra – but I wanted to fulfill a childhood dream. I am glad that I followed my heart, and I even won a special prize for it at the IVCI. {Lin was awarded Special Prize for Best Performance of a Concerto in the Finals}.

What compositions do you plan on adding to your performance repertoire list?

I have been working on a lot on concertos, so I feel like I need to catch up on sonatas. I am planning to learn more sonatas by composers such as Strauss, Saint-Saens, Debussy, Janacek, Poulenc, etc. and hopefully perform them on future recitals. Also, I would like to explore more in the chamber music field, which I enjoy a lot but haven’t had enough chance to do. And I would like to explore new repertoire and even new genres of music. I had the opportunity to perform a Chinese concerto with a traditional Chinese orchestra last year, and I hope to have more collaboration with different music cultures.

Another perk of winning the IVCI is the opportunity to play on the 1683 Ex-Gingold Stradivarius. What impact will this fine instrument have?

Old school playing is a style I’ve always striven for and Maestro Gingold is one of the main figures of this. Being able to play on his violin is a huge privilege. I believe his legacy and spirit forever live in this instrument and I look forward to passing on his tradition through it.