Victor Julien-Laferrière looks back on his 2017 Competition experience

In May 2017, Victor Julien-Laferrière won the first edition of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for Cello. Five years later, he looks back on this life-changing victory.

Can you share with us your memories of your participation in the Queen Elisabeth Competition for Cello 2022?

A whole month of competition followed by a month of laureates’ concerts, not to mention the preparation... All this leaves more than just memories, it is a slice of life. I remember going through very different states of mind, experiencing a huge relief after the final, followed by some difficulty in restarting the machine in the following weeks.

How did you feel when you advanced from one round to the other?

I was left with the impression of feeling part of a musical event that is larger than life. The interest and enthusiasm of the public allows to transcend the competition, a concept for which a priori few musicians have an affinity. I tried to feed on it to focus on the essentials.

How did you experience your stay at the Music Chapel ?

I dreaded the contrast, the radical change in a form of routine and the lack of control of my environment. But I appreciated being without a phone and measuring this particular form of empathy that is revealed between candidates facing the same challenges.

How did you feel when you won the Competition ?

I felt a very big relief, I don't know how to describe it differently! An adrenaline rush that was unlike any I had experienced before!

How did your First Prize in the Competition influence your career ?

Since winning this award, I have been able to carry out many projects that were close to my heart, no doubt I have been able to give my activity the direction I hoped it to take. I experienced adventures of all kinds during the concerts that resulted from the Competition and it now seems to me that this event is inseparable from my career!

How did you experience the very unusual last few years ?

It is a crisis that would certainly have affected me much more ten years ago and I empathize immensely with the generation after me. Personally, I consider myself quite lucky to have always had projects that have held up amid the flood of cancellations. After a number of years of traveling, the heartbreak of all this mess and the logistical difficulties rubbed shoulders with the great awareness of wanting to enjoy this time with family.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future ?

An intense musical life, to discover, to progress. The cello allows so much, from the freedom of the recital to the exploration of the concerto, the rather infinite repertoire that awaits there... I hope to continue developing the Consuelo Orchestra that I created and that I direct and also the festivals I’m involved with.

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