Violinist Joshua Brown '22, '24 MM won first prize at the China International Music Competition. He receives $100,000, a Gold Medal, and three years of concert tours for his win.
Brown competed against two other violinists in the final round held on November 13 at the National Center for the Performing Arts. Conductor and NEC alumnus Tristan Rais-Sherman '21 AD led each competitor, together with Orchestra Academia China and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, through their performance of a major violin concerto, including Brown's masterful rendition of Brahms' Violin Concerto in D major Op.77.
"He delivered a performance of the Brahms that was really remarkable," said Rais-Sherman, who was named Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra for the 2023-2024 season following a successful tenure as Conducting Fellow. "His playing shows a deep musical perception. He clearly understands the full score and how his part fits into the greater whole."
The jury for the competition included Bin Huang (Chairman), Friedemann Eichhorn, Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici, Mariusz Patyra, Lucie Robert, Joel Smirnoff, Weidong Tong, and Pavel Vernikov.
"It was quite surreal to be announced the winner," said Brown. "Throughout the entire competition, I tried my best to focus only on the music that I had to play and not on any results. I think I am still processing everything that happened!"
Brown, age 23, has studied with faculty member Donald Weilerstein at NEC for nearly six years. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance in 2022 and is now working toward his Master of Music degree.
"Joshua is an unusually wonderful person in addition to his being a deeply moving musician and a beautiful violinist," said Weilerstein of his pupil. "The NEC community has definitely contributed a great deal to his superb development! I've personally so enjoyed watching and contributing to his outstanding growth."
Brown debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra at just fifteen years old in 2015. Since then, he has performed with dozens of orchestras in the United States and abroad in concert halls worldwide, continually garnering praise from critics. He has won numerous prestigious awards, including being the top prize winner at the Tenth International Violin Competition of Leopold Mozart and a prize winner of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
"NEC and Mr. Weilerstein have done everything for me in contributing to my success," Brown said. "Even though I have been at NEC for a good portion of my life, I still feel like I am growing and learning so much from every single lesson with Mr. Weilerstein. I leave my lessons every week just as amazed and inspired as my first week studying at NEC! I think this kind of constant learning is absolutely responsible for any kind of success that I have, and I will always be grateful for everything that the school has done for me."
Rais-Sherman sang Brown's praises after conducting each finalist. They had collaborated on several orchestral projects at NEC in 2021 and reunited at the competition in Beijing. "Joshua was a pleasure to work with during our brief but intense rehearsal process," he said. "He exudes a joy of music-making that is infectious to the orchestra and the audience. On top of this all, he brings a magnetic presence to the stage that makes you feel like you're a part of something special."
Brown's NEC classmates Angela Chan '22 MM, '24 GD, another student of Donald Weilerstein, and SooBeen Lee '21, '23 MM, '25 GD, a student of Miriam Fried, also competed at the China International Music Competition and were among the six violinists to make it to the finals.