The only Belgian candidate for the Queen Elisabeth Competition: “I mainly play for the public and there is no judging”

The only Belgian candidate for the Queen Elisabeth Competition: “I mainly play for the public and there is no judging”
The only Belgian candidate for the Queen Elisabeth Competition: “I mainly play for the public and there is no judging”

Let’s just say it right away: At 19 years old, Pauline van der Rest is one of the youngest participants in this edition of the Queen Elisabeth Competition. In the past, this was not really a guarantee of success, but the victory of singer Benjamin Taehan Kim last year proves that the spring chickens can also have a lot to offer.

Moreover, it is a position that Van der Rest is used to as a cadet from a family of seven children. Her entire family breathes music, her brothers and sisters often play multiple instruments. The little chick of the family had to choose which sounds she wanted to hear and so began – in her own words “rather naively” – her love for the violin.

That naivete doesn’t last long. Pauline’s motivation is at the same time disarmingly cute and a striking foreshadowing. “At the age of six, according to my mother, I ‘fell in love’ with Prince Gabriel of Belgium,” she says in an earlier interview.

“Then, according to her, I set my sights on serious violin studies, so that one day I could participate in the Queen Elisabeth Competition and meet him there.” Wondering whether the prince, himself a pianist, will take a seat in the royal box during this string edition.

Precocious violinist

As entertaining as the anecdote is, there is also the musical reality. There was rapid professionalization when an interim teacher at the music school noticed Pauline’s talent. She was able to enter the ‘youth’s talent‘-programme of the Institut Supérieur Royal de Musique et de Pédagogie (IMEP) in Namur and ended up in Igor Tkatchouk’s class. Under his wings she won the Grumiaux competition in 2018. Her own teacher mentioned that competition an incentive for young musicians. It gives them a clear picture of where they currently stand, so they can take further steps… and perhaps participate in the Elisabeth Competition one day in the future.”

The hunger of the prize animal in Van der Rest was by no means satisfied by that victory. In 2019 she was the best in the Honda competition, a competition across instruments, for students at one of the eight higher music courses in our country. She also managed to shoot that main bird. Reviewer Martine Mergeay chimed in La Libre her “accurate intonation, beauty of sound, sensitivity, virtuosity, serenity” and above all – “her maturity”.

Top institutes

Thanks to these prizes, Pauline increasingly came into the sights of top foreign institutes. She completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of the Arts in Essen, took master classes with Leonidas Kavakos, and was admitted to the prestigious Kronberg Academy in 2023, where she is taught by the Dutch star violinist Janine Jansen. Pauline is very intelligent (…) very searching as a player, very imaginative,” she says about her pupil De Volkskrant.

In between the courses there are concerts at top locations. She already has experience in both Flagey and Bozar, and she recently added the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to her resume.

And new competitions keep appearing on her calendar. Last year she reached the semi-finals of the Montreal Musical International Competition. She then gave an insight in interviews into how she approaches such competitions. “You can’t really prepare for it. It has to happen at the moment itself. For that reason, I was particularly nervous about stepping on stage. But when you show up, you realize there’s an audience there. People who have come to hear you make music and not to judge. As a performer, you play for them first and foremost.”

Let it be a good omen that we have heard such a statement before. Last year, the above-mentioned first laureate Taehan Kim said the day after his win that he ‘always saw the competition as a concert and not as a competition’.” In a month we will know whether this attitude also pays off for our compatriot.

The Queen Elisabeth Competition starts on Monday, May 6, and we will know the winners on Saturday, June 1.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Belgian candidate Queen Elisabeth Competition play public judging


PREV Metejoor cancels concerts and takes a break: “I don’t feel so great at the moment”
NEXT Valuable sign stolen from the door of star chef Willem Hiele: “Piece of history has been taken from us” (Oudenburg)