History

The Windsor Festival International String Competition was founded in 2008 in honour of Sir Yehudi Menuhin and his desire to provide opportunities for young musicians. Since its foundation, the competition has become recognised and acclaimed throughout the world, attracting an exceptional standard of competitor and becoming the most eminent competition of its kind in the United Kingdom. The competition takes place every two years and applications are invited from violinists, violists and cellists between the ages of 16 and 26 years of all nationalities. From a large list of entrants, eight are selected to go through to the semi-final round which takes place over two days. Three competitors are then chosen by a panel of international jury to compete in the Final, which this year will take place in the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle, by kind permission of Her Majesty The Queen.

The inaugural Windsor Festival International String Competition was won by Brian O’Kane in 2008, who, as part of his First Prize, returned to Windsor Festival in September 2009 to give a highly successful performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Also as part of his First Prize Brian performed at La Mortella in Ischia, the island home of Sir William Walton, and following this was invited to return in 2010. Brian has since been appointed cellist of the Navarra Quartet with whom he enjoys a busy performing schedule all over the world.  

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Diana Galvydyte won the 2009 Windsor Festival International String Competition and performed the Bruch Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins in September 2010. Diana enjoys playing on her gold mounted bow by Gary Leahy which she personally selected as part of her First Prize from Bishop Instruments & Bows.

Yuki Ito

The Third Windsor Festival International String Competition, for which there were over 100 applicants, was fiercely contested in March 2011 as part of the Windsor Spring Festival. The Competition was won by the Japanese cellist, Yuki Ito, with Second Place going to Jiafeng Chen from China and Michael Petrov from Bulgaria taking Third Place and also the Audience Prize. In an exciting collaboration for the International String Competition and Champs Hill Records Yuki Ito has been offered the opportunity to record Rachmaninov's much-loved Cello Sonata for Champs Hill Records, to be released in Autumn 2012. The CD marks Yuki's recording debut. Also as part of his prize, Yuki performed the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra, WFISC’s associate orchestra, in the 2011 Windsor Festival.

altIn 2013 the Windsor Festival International String Competition took place over a full week and was expanded to include events such as a Masterclass series, supported by Bishop Instruments and Bows, a "No Strings Attached" workshop with Tasmin Little and a lunch with the jury. The level of applicants attracted was exemplary, and the semi-finals were an outstanding display of the very finest of the world's young string soloists. New-Zealand born British violinist Benjamin Baker astounded an enraptured audience with his breath-taking performance of Paganini and Strauss to take both First Prize and the Audience Prize, and is rapidly becoming one of the most eminent young violinists - his performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia in Windsor Festival was descibed by many audience members as their highlight of the righly varied two week long Autumn Festival. Second Prize was won by Yuka Ishizuka from Japan, and Third Prize by Marisol Lee from Korea. Benjamin's recording with Champs Hill Records, as part of his WFISC prize, went straight into the top 30 of the Specialist Classical Charts upon release.

Ji Yoon Lee Violin Large


As the Windsor Festival International String Competition reached its 5th anniversary in 2015, the competition received applications from 37 different countries – its reach extending to every corner of the globe. With this competition we also inaugurated the Berkshire Young String Player of the Year, and welcomed our esteemed International Jury to perform in various events throughout the week. The competition brought a formidable showcase of international young string players to Windsor, as the title was hotly contested throughout the week. Ji Yoon Lee of South Korea took First Prize, and we look forward to her return to perform Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with The Philharmonia under the baton of Jac van Steen, with the British violist Timothy Ridout being awarded Second Prize and Elina Buksha of Latvia taking Third Prize and the Audience Prize.



“Winning the WFISC was the real start of my professional career, as I was given extremely valuable opportunities which led to further engagements, such as performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra, professional CD recording, BBC Radio appearances, many recital engagements and even a chance to perform to HRH The Prince Edward.

The competition is now widely known as the most important international competition for string players in the UK, and I believe with confidence that the WFISC is truly the one every young string player around the globe who has the ambition to be professional should go through!"

Yuki Ito, First Prize Winner 2011

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