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Princess Astrid of Norway presents Princess Astrid International Music Prize

Princess Astrid was at the Olavshallen in Trondheim this week to present the prizes in the Princess Astrid International Music Competition on Thursday evening. The Competition is held every two years, alternating with the Queen Sonja Music Competition and has been competed for since 1953. The competition is organised by the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, and it was the brainchild of their conductor at the time, Finn Andun Oftedal. The competition is open to players under thirty years of age and is restricted to a single instrument, which changes from competition to competition. The first competition in 1953 was won by pianist, Kjell Baekkelund.

This year it was the turn of violinists, and some ninety violinists entered. They were whittled down to a shortlist of nine, who then became three – an American, a Norwegian and an Australian. On Thursday evening, they entertained the audience at the Olavshallen with two pieces each designed to showcase their individual talents; the concert was conducted by the Finnish conductor Anna-Maria Helsing. There was then the agonising wait while the international jury considered the performances before the Head Judge announced the winner. The judge was Professor Else Båtnes, and she announced the winner to be the American violinist, Mayumi Kanagawa and in second place was the Norwegian violinist, Ludwig Gudim.

Princess Astrid, the sister of King Harald, presented the prizes to them both. Mayumi won a cash prize as well as a solo engagement with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and a cash prize, Ludwig, as well as finishing second won the Finn Andun Oftedal scholarship for being the highly-placed Norwegian in the competition. Interestingly, I believe the head judge in the past also performed a solo with the orchestra when she was eight. She is now the leader of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Princess Astrid as well as being Patron of the competition is also the Patron of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.

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