Santiago Cañón-Valencia, a graduate student pursuing a Performer’s Diploma in cello at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, won first prize in the Lennox International Young Artists Competition for Strings, held recently at The University of Texas at Dallas.
The prize includes a cash award of $5,000 and a performance with the Richardson Symphony Orchestra. Cañón-Valencia will play Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor at the Richardson concert, which takes place March 8.
Cañón-Valencia won the top prize in the Lennox competition with a performance of Prokofiev’s Symphonia Concertante. He is a student of Andrés Díaz, international concert artist and professor of cello at the Meadows School.
Judges for the 2014 competition were Mark Hayman, associate director, Young Concert Artists, Inc., New York; Emanuel Borok, retired concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony and Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at SMU; and Andrés Díaz, who, as Cañón-Valencia’s teacher, recused himself from the vote on his performance.
Cañón-Valencia, a native of Bogota, Colombia, has already begun establishing an international career. He made his concert debut at age six with the Bogota Philharmonic and has since played with major orchestras in Colombia, Australia, New Zealand and China. He has had master classes with such renowned cellists as Yo-Yo Ma, Philippe Müller and Gary Hoffman. He was named “Most Promising Young Performer” at the prestigious Adam International Cello Competition at age 13, won top prize at the Beijing International Music-Cello Competition at age 15, and at 16 won first prize at both the Gisborne International Music Competition and the National Concerto Competition in New Zealand. Most recently, he won second prize in the 2012 Johansen International String Competition in Washington, D.C., and was named “Best Performer of Cassadó’s work” at the Third Gaspar Cassadó International Violoncello Competition in Hachioji, Japan in November 2013.
Cañón-Valencia released his first CD, Solo, in March 2013. The Strad magazine praised his “technically flawless” and “simply tremendous” playing, calling the CD “one of the most persuasive programmes of solo cello music … to date.” His second CD will be recorded in July 2014.
Cañón-Valencia also was a winner of the Meadows School’s annual concerto competition, and will perform the Prokofiev Symphonia with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra at SMU May 2 and 4.
The Lennox International Young Artists Competition is sponsored by the Richardson Symphony Orchestra and receives major funding through a generous gift from Lennox International, Inc. It is open to music students aged 13 to 23. The purpose of the competition is to recognize talented young musicians and to give the young artists the opportunity to perform with the Richardson Symphony.
The March 8 concert with the Richardson Symphony takes place at 8 p.m. at the Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. Tickets are $10-$87 and may be purchased by calling the Eisemann Center ticket office at 972.744.4650.
The concert with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, featuring Santiago Cañón-Valencia and other student winners of this year’s Meadows Concerto Competition, will be held May 2 at 8 p.m. and May 4 at 3 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium, located in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Tickets are $7-$13. For more information, call the Meadows ticket office at 214.768.2787.