Festspiele MV awards prizes to international music talents

October, 27, 2107

The decision at the third largest German classical festival has fallen: the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival have announced their award winners this year.

The prize for the soloists, which is endowed with 5,000 euros, is given to the young Dutch-American violinist Stephen Waarts.

Nordkurier, Germany


August 2017

…a performance of Prokofiev's Concerto no.2 in G minor that boasted exceptionally sensitive and eloquent interaction with the orchestra. The music's expressive power was always controlled and his beautiful tone enriched every note. He expertly judged the size and character of the room. A chamber-like but never miniaturised dialogue lent additional distinction to his account.

by MICHAEL FRANCIS - at The Strad
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Unforgettable concert offered by the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra with guest conductor Iván López Reynoso and violinist Stephen Waarts

June, 10, 2017

“….Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra, who, in the hands of the guest director Iván López Reynoso and the renowned violinist Stephen Waarts, achieved an incredible concert that stunned the audience.”

Béla Bartók's First Concerto for violin and orchestra, masterfully executed by the virtuoso international violinist Stephen Waarts, who was given a ovation by the audience for his great interpretation"

Nuestro Enfoque - Veracruz, Mexico
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New Artist of the Month: Stephen Waarts

June 1, 2017

by Bruce Hodges at Musical America Worldwide
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Review: 56 Years Presenting the Best of Young Artists

May 17, 2017

Mr. Waarts was commanding in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor. In the first movement, which begins with a melancholic solo theme for violin, Mr. Waarts tapped into tensions within the Neo-Classical veneer of Prokofiev’s music. He played that melody with warm, soothing sound, but also a hint of anxiety.

That opening movement goes through dramatic shifts, from moments of dreamy lyricism, which Mr. Waarts shaped with melting beauty, to bursts of perpetual-motion busyness, which he dispatched with articulate fervor.

He brought out the slyness beneath the demure surface of the second movement, which opens with a lofty melody over a deferential accompaniment with pizzicato strings. He tore into the rustic Russian-dance finale, playing with bright sound and breathless intensity.

by Anthony Tommasini at the New York Times
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Stephen Waarts - 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant Recipient

March 15, 2017


"Musicians of outstanding ability are such an important part of our culture. But they are like flowers that must bloom at a particular time. They have to be helped at the right moments…" — Avery Fisher

These Grants of $25,000 give professional assistance and recognition to talented instrumentalists who the Recommendation Board and Executive Committee believe have great potential for solo careers.

Watch announcement and performance
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An Astonishing Violin Debut at the Auburn Symphony

February 21, 2017

"At Sunday’s concert, it (Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto) was played with passion, emotion, warmth, depth, maturity, and impeccable intonation and musicianship even in the hardest sections of playing very fast on more than one string at a time…

This was a performance of rich satisfaction to listen to.

For the first time ever at an ASO performance, the soloist played an encore…Not a fireworks showoff piece, but a meditative quiet one, spare and lovely."

by Philippa Kiraly - The SunBreak, Seattle
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Selections from the Curtis Institute of Music, available online at WHYY

First aired on February 19, 2017

Recorded live on April 5, 2016 at the Curtis Institute of Music

Bartók: Sonata No. 2
Ysaye: Sonata in G minor, Op. 27, No. 1
Massenet: “Méditation” from Thaïs, transcr. Marsick
Kreisler: La Gitana
Ravel: Tzigane, rapsodie de concert
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Beethoven mit geballter Faust Mozart-Matinee mit Stipendiat Stephen Waarts im Konzerthaus

February 13, 2017

Konzerthaus Dortmund
Bremer Philharmoniker with Markus Poschner in Mozart Concerto no. 4

“…has a vigorous, energetic stroke and a very advanced technique. And when, as in the second movement, he sings the music with silver tone, it sounds elegant and cultured. His sensitive structure in this andante cantabile suited the encore, the "dance of shades" from the second solo sonata by Eugene Ysaye.”

Ruhr Nachrichten - Dortmunder Kultur
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Bremer Philharmoniker bescheren Konzert auf höchstem Niveau

February 12, 2017

Saalbau Witten
Bremer Philharmoniker with Markus Poschner in Mozart Concerto no. 4

“The slender, tall young man was instantly liked through his modest appearance and his light violin tone, which nevertheless did not lack any substance. His interpretation of Mozart's Violin Concerto no. 4 in D major succeeded in the typically floating, sensual style of the Viennese classics"

by Peter Tölke - Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ)
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Violinist Waarts elevates trick to art

October 9, 2016
Muziekgebouw Eindhoven
philharmonie zuidnederland with Kees Bakels in Paganini Violin Concerto no. 2, op 7

the Eindhovense listeners recognized and embraced him (Waarts) as a musical genius. Paganini's music is mainly to show what virtuoso silliness you can play on a violin. I am soon finished with these acrobatics – tricks with little content - but to be honest, this soloist lifted the tricks to art.

Modest but with flair Waarts played the many impossible double stops, climbed to dizzying heights in the strings, his left hand with breakneck speed along the fingerboard of his instrument.

Best of all was the intense, warm tone that he pulled with firm stroke from his beautiful Guarneri violin.

Surprising was the encore, Sonata # 5 of Ysaye, a piece that begins with two gently stroked open strings and in which the slowly built perfectly executed virtuosity was in service to the music."

by Marjolijn Sengers - Eindhovens Dagblad
(translated from Dutch)

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Hommage an Yehudi Menuhin

April 30, 2016
Konzerthaus Berlin
Konzerthausorchester Berlin with James Judd in Brahms Violin Concerto

“He (Stephen Waarts) is the most interpretive player…

One rarely experiences a so consistently spiritual concert. He is one with yourself; his game is to investigate, search, think, weigh and sometimes doubt.  He is a violinist who has the potential to set standards in interpretation.”

by Andreas Göbel, kulturradio
(translated from German)
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Hommage an Yehudi Menuhin

April 30, 2016
Konzerthaus Berlin
Konzerthausorchester Berlin with James Judd in Brahms Violin Concerto

"…he (Waarts) revealed his virtuosity with a beautiful tone and makes one sit up and take notice with a beautiful rise and fall of the sound.

Deep concentration achieved its goal in the dialogue with the oboe in the Adagio, which Pablo de Sarasate once criticized for its "leadership" by the oboe. Stephen Waarts succeeded wonderfully, to "play around" the oboe melody and to give it a suitable languishing superstructure.

The third movement was very playfully interpreted - even truly "giocoso" - with the soloist and the orchestra under the gripping leadership of James Judd alternately taking the lead."

by Kaspar Sannemann, oper-aktuell
(translated from German)
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Das Konzerthaus sucht den superenkel: Violinkonzerte von Bach, Beethoven, Brahms

April 29, 2016
Konzerthaus Berlin
Konzerthausorchester Berlin with James Judd in Brahms Violin Concerto

"… (Waarts) shows in Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto in D major a sympathetic, as opposed to superficial tonal beauty, sometimes with fascinating nonchalance....

...his dramatic moving comes entirely from within, without external showmanship; in the Adagio he succeeds with a soft, non-tacky, perfectly singing tone."
(translated from German)

by hundert11 – Konzertgänger in Berlin


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Enlarged Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle Triumphant in Romantic Program

November 15, 2015
Durham, NC
Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle in Saint-Saens Concerto no. 3

“Waarts instantly impressed with the power of his attack and the purity and warmth of his tone…. the give-and-take between Waarts and section leaders was a constant delight."

by William Thomas Walker - CNVC, North Carolina
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Violinist Stephen Waarts signs to HarrisonParrott

September 25, 2015

HarrisonParrott is delighted to welcome Dutch/American violinist Stephen Waarts to its roster for general management, working alongside Young Concert Artists in North America.

Artist profile and contact information at HarrisonParrott
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2015 Kronberg Academy Festival

September 26 - October 3, 2015

Stephen Waarts will take part in the 1015 Kronberg Academy Festival.
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Mozart Gesellschaft scholarship

Sept 2015

Following the 2015 Krzyżowa Music Festival in Poland, Stephen Waarts was awarded the Mozart Gesellschaft scholarship which will see him work with the Bremer Philharmoniker in the 2016/17 season.
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Krzyżowa: The music

August 30, 2015

“…The final piece of the final evening's performance brought out the talents of a young violinist from California, Stephen Waarts, first violinist in Schubert's String Quintet in C major. His playing was keen, sensitive, personal and fluent. He set the pace, he receded into the background when the voice passed to other players, he was supportive and expressive. He knew the piece cold, seldom even glancing at the score. This piece had been rehearsed by Alfred Brendel, who was smiling approvingly after the performance. Although this quintet suffers from being overplayed, that it is capable of being played at such heights, and with such care, proves its greatness. …”
The Millbrook Independent
by Stephen Kaye
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Young Festival del Sole violinist on the brink of stardom

July 29, 2015

…each and every one in the venue knew they’d seen a young man on the brink of stardom…We loved Waart’s tonal purity, along with his remarkable range of expressive colors… Waarts caught the dreamy, other-worldly quality of even the simplest phrases, and pianist Miles Graber — who proved a worthy partner throughout the performance — was equally adept at the mood changes and harmonic surprises one expects in SchuberMaurice Ravel’s “Tzigane…The very talented young violinist offered a jaw-droppingly virtuosic performance of intensity, exoticism and vibrant melody
Napa Valley Register
by L Pierce Carson
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Christoph König Leads Brevard Sinfonia with Soloist Stephen Waarts

July 25, 2015
…shimmering moments of sheer beauty…Thus completely captivating the audience and after repeated curtain calls, he played a brief encore, the introspective second movement from Eugene Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 4 for solo violin, to thunderous applause.
CVNC - The online arts journal in North Carolina
by: Laura McDowell
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The choice of the Heart

May 31, 2015

Every year, the Festival welcomes the Musiq'3 audience winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition , the one you have chosen ! After a deep run in the Competition this year it is Stephen Waarts that has attracted the favor of the Belgian public , both north and south since he also received the "price VRT " in addition to " price Musiq'3 " !
Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF - the public broadcasting organization of the French Community of Belgium)
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Stephen Waarts Wins VRT Public Price

May 31, 2015
The Dutch -American violinist Stephen Waarts wins in the final of the Queen Elisabeth Competition the 2015 VRT audience price. Waarts is only 18 years.

The young Dutch -American violinist Stephen Waarts played on the closing night as a last candidate. The eighteen- year-old musician most captivated the audience and received overwhelmingly your vote. He wins the VRT public prize worth 2,500 euros.

Overall, more than three thousand people participate in this vote.
VRT - Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie
(Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Organization national public-service broadcaster for the Flemish Region and Community of Belgium.)
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Baffling results in Brussels

Jury places audience favourite in fifth place at Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition in Belgium
May 31, 2015
…a Bartók that was full of beautiful colours and contrasts, by virtue of a large palette of vibratos and bow speeds. He was certainly the first player all week to find a real pianissimo sound.

Waarts was sensitive to the full range of the composer’s moods and influences, whether gypsy rhythms, painful longing or joyous aspirations, and was able to switch between them in the blink of an eye, and to allow ebb and flow. The cadenza of the first movement was spell-binding – quiet in a way that none of the other performers dared, forcing the audience to listen; the simplest of phrases in the slow movement belied a gratefully received old-fashioned musical taste; and his rhythmic impulse in the last movement was infallible. One was also aware of a true chamber musician, in touch at all times with Alsop and trying to galvanise the orchestra, whether leading the winds with his violin or playing with the cellos.

There was a complete clarity to Waarts’s modern piece, his left hand fluid and nimble and his lines sweeping in the moto perpetuo. He created a beautiful landscape in the slow section, between all the harmonics and disjointed notes, and made structural sense of the finale.

…the fifth place for Waarts that baffled me…
Elbow Music
by: Ariane Todes
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Closing chords in Brussels: the 2015 Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition

May 31, 2015

Many arguments could be made for a top prize for Stephen Waarts, at 18 the youngest contestant and the most original musical voice amongst the finalists. A master of color, form and musical character, Waarts mesmerized the audience with cries and whispers, the only candidate to spin a true pianissimo during the entire week of competitive performance. His Bartok emphasized ephemeral, long lines of harmonic meandering over barbaric, folk elements: the king of subtlety and nuance deserved far more than a 5th Prize
by Heather Kurzbauer
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Concours Reine Elisabeth: miraculeuse simplicité de Waarts

May 30, 2015

…the Dutch-American shows great maturity, dominating the score with ease and serenity.

From the outset, the candidate made a direct and fruitful contact with Marin Alsop and the orchestra, a link that would continue throughout the second concerto of Bartok. With, again, the same feeling of smiling and relaxed ease: almost paradoxical at a level unmatched in one of the most demanding music competitions in the world, there is risk that, little by little, this relaxation will eventually pass for a lack of commitment. It would be unfair, because the benefit is remarkable lightness and ductility of the bow, precision attacks, sound quality, there is nothing wrong with the candidate. But in addition, Waarts is not cheating: he played the work, nothing but work. As if, barely out of his teens, he had learned all the basics - music - but not the accessory, that is to say, the interpretative theater that accompanies it.

The slow movement is a miracle of simplicity, in fact fully consistent with the prescribed Bartok who noted "Andante tranquillo." And the final allegro, exudes a mischievous humor, is the perfect conclusion of a non-standard interpretation that the jury will reward.
La Libre
by Nicolas Blanmont et Martine D. Mergeay
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Violin Channel “Twenty Questions”

A video with Stephen Waarts answering 20 questions for the “violin Channel”

March 26, 2015
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Interview - Stephen Waarts: The Young Master

January 2015
By Jacqueline Vanesse
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Menuhin winner Stephen Waarts deftly plays Mendelssohn with SFCO

January 3, 2015
“Waarts displayed well polished sonorities that were consistently executed with cleanliness and clarity. He played through his part as if nothing Mendelssohn had written posed any unmanageable challenge. This was familiar music; but the execution had a freshness to it. This was a reading that seized attention from the opening notes and held it to the final cadence.”
SF Classical Music Examiner
By Stephen Smoliar


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Never Too Young to Take On Beethoven and BartokStephen Waarts Debuts at Merkin Concert Hall

December 16, 2014
“When he first appeared onstage, the lanky Mr. Waarts looked like a typically awkward teenager. He became all grace and assurance, though, once he started playing…”

On Beethoven Sonata No. 8 “a lithe, spirited account of an inventive early piece”

On Bartok Solo Violin Sonata: “Mr. Waarts, playing commandingly from memory, balanced passages that evolve in the halting dance idiom of the chaconne with rhapsodic stretches that in this gripping account seemed somberly ruminative. He was comparably inspired in the resolute, intricate fugue, the searching slow movement marked Melodia, and the frenetic finale.” (Bartok Solo Sonata)

On Ravel’s Sonata in G: “gave a colorful, vibrant performance of Ravel’s Sonata in G. The first movement was aptly fluid and dreamy; the jazzy second movement, impish and sly. The breathless perpetual-motion finale had both sparkle and intensity.”

On Waxman Carmen Fantasy: “dispatched it brilliantly”
The New York Times
by: Anthony Tommasini
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Teen violinist Stephen Waarts offers imaginative take on classics in local debut

December 10, 2014

“Stephen Waarts gave an outstanding debut at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. In a fine program of Beethoven, Bartok, Ravel and Waxman — difficult music, in a range of styles and impeccably rendered — Waarts showed an uncommon, preternatural sense of tonal color and lyrical beauty on the instrument.”
The Washington Post
By: Robert Battey
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Violinist Stephen Waarts displays his phenomenal technique in “Gift to the Community’ concert”

November 10, 2014

“Word must have gotten out into the community about Waarts’ abilities because the room was packed, something that doesn’t necessarily happen when the Bills’ games are televised or played out at The Ralph.”

“Waarts is phenomenal from a technical standpoint and his interpretive skills are already at a high level.”

“The audience left the hall, after a brief encore, fully sated.”
The Buffalo News
by: Garaud MacTaggart
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Rising Stars: Stephen Waarts

October 2014

.. demonstrated maturity far beyond his years and a virtuosity that would be the envy of violinists of any age...

...At his Orford recital Stephen made a strong impression with his performance of Bartók’s Sonata for Violin Solo. His intonation was impeccable and he effortlessly captured the work’s many moods and colours.

With Curtis colleague Chelsea Wang, an equally impressive partner at the piano, Waarts gave anamazing interpretation of Ravel’s Sonate. Again, every note was in tune, the phrasing was idiomatic and the tone quality rich and full. The jazz elements inthe slow movement were perfectly realized with just the right touch of humour and melancholy, and the finale was brilliant and exciting.
La Scena Musicale
by: Paul E. Robinson
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Classical Conversations: Violinist Stephen Waarts with Paul E. Robinson

October 3, 2014
Recorded during the Orford Festival Canada
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First Prize Senior Winner of the Menuhin Competition, Austin 2004

March 1, 2014
Stephen Waarts was awarded 1st Prize in the Senior Division. He also received the Bach Prize and the Composer's Prize for Donald Grantham’s new work Black-eyed Suzy.

In addition to the $10,000 1st prize award, he will receive a 1 year loan of a a fine old Italian violin by Christophe Landon Rare Violins as well as international performance opportunities. The $1,500 Bach prize was donated by Robert Masters and the $1,000 Composer's prize was donated by Toyoko Hattori.

The 2014 Menuhin Competition was held in Austin, Texas at the Butler School of Music and Long Center for the Performing Arts. It included among other performances with the Miro Quartet, the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra.

This year jury included Pamela Frank (USA), Joji Hattori (Japan/Austria), Olivier Charlier (France), Ilya Gringolts (Russia), David Kim (USA), Brian Lewis (USA), LU Siqing (China), Anton Nel (South Africa/US) and Arabella Steinbacher (Germany)
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Reviews Menuhin Competition, Austin 2004

March 2014

Waarts showed superb control of dynamics and colour, bringing out real extremes in both the folky and classical sections and demonstrating a vital sense of pulse in what was still an intimate rendition (On Grantham - "Black Eyed Susy")

...Stephen Waarts produced a subtle op.76 no.2 - the fourth movement exhibiting beautifully constructed long phrases (On Hyand quartet with the Miro Quartet members)

"The orchestra came alive in the second half, where Waarts built exquisite tension and a real sense of a journey." On Prokofiev Violin Concertp No 2) Ariane Todes - Strad Magazine

"Stephen is enigmatic, he has a huge talent and has always been an artist.. I am delighted he now has the Menuhin Competition first prize." Zamira Benthall - Daughter of Sir Yehudi Menuhin

If (Yehudi Menuhin) were here tonight, he would be absolutely thrilled as to what happened to this competition. Gordon Back - Competition Artistic Director

....Stephen had us hanging on every note…The music fits together like a complex and intricate clock made by a madman genius. It sounds wrong when it's right, and so how does one know if it's right? On this night, I finally knew. In fact, I heard a few things I hadn't heard before because they meshed just right; I saw how they fit. Laurie Niles - Violinist.com

A shockingly mature, nuanced performance of Prokofiev’s second violin concerto… Luke Quinton - Austin360.com

...a blazing and supremely assured performance... It’s a tricky, moody piece, but Waarts made of it a seamless, gripping episode. Zachary Lewis - Cleveland.com

...technical perfection and great beauty of tone… a presence on stage that commands attention… his playing soars over the orchestra…Paul E. Robinson - La Scena Musicale


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Young Concert Artists Inc Recital, New York on WQXR New York Classical Radio

December 18, 2013

Broadcast by New York's classical radio station WQXR on
The McGraw Hill Financial Young Artists Showcase presented by Robert Sherman.
Recorded November 11 2013
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First Prize Winner of the 2013 Young Concert Artist, Inc. , New York, International Auditions

November 9, 2013

Stephen Waarts was added to the artist roster of Young Concert Artist Inc. Since 1961,YCA shines a spotlight on the newest talent, launching careers through debut concerts and comprehensive professional development. YCA artists go on to have a major impact on the future of music. Notable alumni include Emanuel Ax, Pinchas Zukerman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Dawn Upshaw.

Stephen Waarts was awarded YCA's Sander Buchman Prize, which provides major support for his New York debut. He also received two YCA Performance Prizes: a concerto appearance with the Albany Symphony, and a concert with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society.
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MIMC 2013: A Competition to Remember

June 3, 2013

"...This enormously talent young man (another 16 year old!) played with the most gorgeous tone and uncommon musicality."....
La Scena Musicale
by: Joseph So
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Montreal International Musical Competition - Montreal, Canada

May 17, 2015

- Audience award - “Radio Canada People’s Choice Award” for Brahms Violin Concerto with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Maxim Vengerov conducting at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.
- Jury award, 2nd place
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Montreal International Music Competition:

May 17, 2013

...The young violinist offered a palette of intense moments, especially in the cadenza, where he performed with great contrasts....

...In the second movement, Waarts’s musicality and phrasing were truly showcased. Undoubtedly, his sense of melody is his strength: every note, every crescendo, and every vibrato had its place. Everything was on key. (Definitely a must listen!)...

...the audience showered Waarts with thunderous applause and cries of ‘Bravo!’ ...
La Scena Musicale
by: Christine Lee
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Concours musical - Un gala qui confirme tout

May 19, 2013

"I prefer to find someone who will be on stage in five to ten years in London, Paris or New York. This artist did exist and it is called Stephen Waarts, an American of sixteen. " (translated)
Le Devoir - Montreal
by: Christophe Huss
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Concours musical - L’Ange aux mains moites

May 16, 2013

"The winner of my heart…when he starts to play, something happens" (translated)
Le Devoir - Montreal
by: Christophe Huss
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Violon : le 2e et dernier soir

May 16, 2013

For this listener, the choice was Stephen Waarts,... Stephen Waarts seems to have put his whole being into one thing: his violin. He draws in a noble Brahms sound reminiscent Milstein and impresses a continuous thought, from beginning to end, including the cadence virtuoso." (translated)
by: Claude Gingras
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2013 Montreal International Musical Competition: Finals, Day 2 + Final Thoughts

May 16, 2013

"Stephen Waarts had a beautiful grace in his playing from the first note of the Brahms Concerto -- and then he warmed up and got even better! His impeccable intonation soothed the soul, and his concept of the piece was a cohesive whole -- he made it look easy. I stopped worrying, relaxed and enjoyed the beauty that is Brahms: the soaring melodies, the quirky rhythms that pop out of a cluster of notes well-played, the warmth of emotion."
by: Laurie Niles
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The Montreal Violin Competition, Pt. IV, the Results

may 16, 2013

…playing the Brahms Concerto (and Joachim’s cadenza) with unreal poise, technical command, and a totally natural sense of musical drama… Waarts convinced many in the audience that he would be the top dog…

…Waart’s excellence had already been apparent in the semifinals when he turned heads and captured hearts with an unexpectedly sophisticated Ravel Sonata in G major and an emotionally confused (appropriately so) reading of Karol Szymanowski’s ecstatic Nocturne and Tarantella…
Strings Magazine
by: Laurence Vittes

Nouvelle portée de violonistes chevronnés : suite et fin

May 15, 2013

…With obviously superior intelligence, his playing is structured as rarely seen in a musician. Even more surprising, given his young age…Waarts has a dazzling future ahead of him... (translated)
by: Normand Babin
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Montreal International Music Competition Enters Finals

May 14, 2013

" Of all the candidates that night, Waarts produced the most warm and beautiful sound which greatly suited his programme: Ravel’s Sonata in G major, Penderecki’s Cadenza, Szymanowski’s Nocturne et Tarentelle, op.28, and Elgar’s La Capricieuse, op. 17."
La Scena Musicale
by: Christine Lee
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Maxim Vengerov to Conduct Montreal Violin Competition Finals

May 14, 2013

"..captured with almost indecent sexuality the jazz and the Jazz Age of Ravel's Sonata in G Major before ending with Karol Szymanowski's ecstatic, emotionally confusing Nocturne and Tarantella..."
Huffington Post
by: Laurence Vittes
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Violin marathon approaches finish

May 12, 2013

"Waarts gave the best performance of the semis — there is a prize for that — with all the effort of a yawn, and there’s little point trying to wrap words around his talent"
Gazette - Montreal
by: Lev Bratishenko
Full Text