Edmonton teenager prepares to compete in 'Olympics of the Violin' in Geneva
There won’t be any skates or snowboards at this Olympics, but there will be bows and strings aplenty.
The Menuhin Competition or the “Olympics of the Violin” kicks off in Geneva, Switzerland in April for 44 of the world’s most-talented violinists under the age of 22. One of those competitors, Jacques Forestier, is a 13-year-old violinist from Edmonton, Alta. He started learning to play the instrument after his mother, who is also a violinist, gave him his first violin when he was just two years old.
“[My mother] gave me a very, very tiny violin and I started my first lessons,” Forestier told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. “I wouldn’t get off the violin. I was addicted to it in a good way. I would practise for like hours at two years old.”
Since then, Forestier practises every day and travels to Calgary once a week to study at the Mount Royal University’s Conservatory Academy for Gifted Youth.
Forestier is the only Canadian who was selected to compete at the world-renowned event where more than 300 violinists from around the world applied to participate. When he found out he’d been selected for the competition last month, the talented young musician shared his reaction to the news.
“I was beyond excited as it is something that I’ve wanted to do since I was eight years old. It’s just a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “It was the perfect moment and the perfect day. I was just so happy.”
In order to prepare for the upcoming event, Forestier said he’s been practising playing the violin for up to seven hours a day. He will be playing J.S. Bach’s “Sonata No. 3”, Henryk Wieniawski’s “Etude-Caprice”, and Johan Svendsen’s “Romance” as well as an improvisation piece that will depend on what the judges’ select. Forestier said he has been mentally prepping for the competition as well.
“It requires tremendous practice sessions and very intense psychological training for it as it’s more of a mind hurdle,” Forestier explained. “It’s the psychological hurdle for this that’s really intense for this competition.”
Forestier said he trains for the psychological component by staying confident and believing in himself.
“You just got to keep performing with a high confidence level and believe. When you’re practising every day, even if it’s not a great day because every day is different, you have to keep believing in yourself,” he said.
If the young musician wins the grand prize in the junior category for competitors under the age of 16, he will receive approximately $13,334 and have a “fine old Italian violin” loaned to him for a year. Other prizes include opportunities to play in different orchestras at concerts around the world, music scholarships and violin courses.