The third edition of the mdw great talent award powered by Christian Zeller brought with it a broad field of participants, an exceptional overall level, and a virtuoso winner.
The Italian organist Raimondo Mazzon claimed ultimate victory at this competition for up-and-coming mdw artists, which is sponsored by the foundation Christian Zeller Privatstiftung. It was with a brilliant performance on the Rieger Organ in the mdw’s Anton-Heiller-Saal that Mazzon tipped the mdw great talent award’s scales in his favour on the evening of 16 May 2023. He prevailed over the final round’s three other competitors with his interpretation of two virtuosic 20th-century works for organ (Jeanne Demessieux’ Te Deum op. 11 and Raffaele Manari’s Studio da concerto sopra Salve Regina).
Raimondo Mazzon is a native of Italy’s Veneto region and previously studied piano, organ, and harpsichord at the conservatories in Venice and Padua as well as in Milan, Salzburg, and Siena. He currently studies organ with Pier Damiano Peretti and harpsichord with Erich Traxler (both at the mdw) as well as conducting at the Imola Academy and the Vienna Opera Academy. The winner of several international competitions, Mazzon can also already point to a CD of organ works by John Williams as well as a complete recording of the Sonatas op. 2 by Antonio Vivaldi.
About this competition, through which he hopes to grow his robust existing network, Mazzon says: “Such an opportunity to play for a jury whose members hail from the world of Viennese orchestras is very important to me. It’s a chance to obtain additional affirmation as well as new ideas.” And with this prize now under his belt, he hopes he’ll be able to contribute to raising more awareness of 20th-century Italian organ music and its spectacular, virtuosic composers. The final round’s second prize (worth € 5,000) went to the Romanian pianist Cadmiel Boțac, while the third prize (worth € 2,500) was awarded to the Slovenian guitarist Leon Ravnikar. Violinist Leonhard Baumgartner, born in 2007, won the first-ever Prize of the mdw (worth € 1,500).
At the competition’s final round, mdw rector Ulrike Sych emphasised the significance of competitions for music students’ artistic development as they set their sights on the world’s great concert stages: “Of crucial importance to the success of young, up-and-coming musicians as they train at a top international level is also the opportunity to present themselves in public performances and competitions and to hold their own against strong competition.” Sponsor Christian Zeller underlined how “this excellence of training, along with its sustainable safeguarding in the cultural sphere, is guaranteed by the mdw. And culture, especially music, has a bridge-building and mediatory role to play in our present times.” The jury, consisting of Ursula Magnes (radio klassik Stephansdom), Eva Teimel (Ö1), Harald Krumpöck (Vienna Philharmonic), and pianist Heinz Medjimorec plus Vienna Radio Symphony Artistic Director Angelika Möser as its chair, praised the universally high standard exhibited by the competition participants. In addition to the awarded cash prizes, all finalists in the mdw great talent award received performing opportunities both at the Neuberger Kulturtage and as part of the cultural programme of the Südbahnhotel am Semmering.
With its motto of “We support the stars of tomorrow today”, the mdw great talent award is geared toward mdw students from the fields of keyboard instruments, bowed and other string instruments, winds and percussion, chamber music and special ensembles, singing and musical theatre, and popular music. Prior performing experience and professionalism are basic prerequisites, and both artistic excellence and sustainability are central to sponsor Christian Zeller’s wide-ranging arts patronage. The previous two competitions were won by the Selini Quartet (2021) and bassoonist Johanna Bilgeri (2022).