First place winners of the Menuhin Competition announced

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The the Junior first prizewinner was Keila Wakao from the United States (left) and Senior first prize winner was 18-year old María Dueñas from Spain (right). (Photos courtesy of the Menuhin Competition)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 announced this year’s first prizewinners were from the United States and Spain.

The Senior first prizewinner was 18-year old María Dueñas from Spain, and the 15-year-old Junior first prizewinner was Keila Wakao from the United States.

“I am so proud that Keila Wakao and María Dueñas will represent the Menuhin Competition as their careers develop,” said Gordon Back, Menuhin Competition Artistic Director.

However, he added he thought the competitors were “all are winners in my view.”

The competition was held virtually this year.

The Senior first prize winner was 18-year old María Dueñas from Spain. (Photo courtesy of the Menuhin Competition)

Dueñas studies with Boris Kuschnir at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna, according to the announcement.

“Dreams make no distinction about nationality or social background. They are there to be fought for and to be reached,” she said. “As a winner of the Competition in the Senior division Richmond 2021, I´m becoming part of Lord Yehudi Menuhin’s legacy, one of the greatest honors I could ever think of. It’s like touching the moon with the tip of my fingers!”   

As the first prizewinner she won $20,000, a two-year loan of a golden period Stradivarius violin from the private collection of Jonathan Moulds CBE through the Beare’s International Violin Society and a bow made by Christophe Landon. 

You can watch her winning performance online here.

The Junior first prizewinner was 15-year-old Keila Wakao from the United States. (Photo courtesy of the Menuhin Competition)

Wakao is from Chestnut Hill, MA and studies at the New England Conservatory of Music with Donald Weilerstein and Soovin Kim.

“When I was 8 or 9 years old, that’s when I started watching the Menuhin Violin Competition,” Keila said. “As I got older, I was so inspired by the musicians on the Competition, and I wanted to see myself there, and now, even through this online experience, I’ve learned so much, and it’s been such an exciting process.” 

For her top placement, Wakao won $10,000, and a two-year loan of a fine old Italian violin, sponsored by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins London & New York.

She was also awarded the Junior Composer Award, sponsored by the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation. 

Wakao’s final performance can be viewed here.

You can find a full list of the prizewinners and more about the Menuhin Competition online here. The final round can also be watched on YouTube.

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