The first Vendome Prize took place at UNESCO in Paris in November, 2000, under the patronage of Catherine Tasca, then France’s Minister of Culture and Communication. The first prize was won by the Italian Alberto Nosé, the second prize by the London based Russian Evgenij Sudbin.
The Secretary General of the renowned Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon was in the hall, and proposed making the 2003 Vendome Prize part of the Sintra Summer Festival, and contributing the Gulbenkian Symphony Orchestra, their conductor Lawrence Foster, and their concert halls in Lisbon and Sintra for auditions and performances. The competition took place in 2003, 2006 and 2009 in Lisbon.
The Vendome Prize quickly made its place in the crowded field of piano competitions thanks to several innovations:
> using of conservatories to nominate talented candidates
> inclusion in the jury of “career makers”- people in the music business who gave concerts to several candidates
> partnering with leading arts institution offering performances and visibility to the winners
Past jury members, included Byron Janis, Christa Ludwig, Constantine Orbellian, Cyprien Katsaris, Elizabeth Leonskaya, Jeffrey Tate, Joan Sutherland, Philippe Entremont, Richard Bonynge and Stephen Kovacevich, to name a few.
Performance musicians generally enter the most difficult period of their lives immediately after they have finished their studies, a period that lasts until they have finally gained a solid foothold in the professional world. At this postgraduate stage of their development, young artists need help, advice, funding, and a chance to prove themselves on the concert stage. A proper recording, attendance at master classes, publicity, and active management are other elements required to bring a talented performer before the public in a winning manner.
Study alone will never yield the charisma, originality, or sheer musicality necessary for an artist to succeed on what is a shrinking circuit of classical music concerts. Yet, extraordinary talents will always capture the public’s attention, streaking across the cultural scene like comets in the sky. Meanwhile, numerous wonderful artists fail to achieve significant careers even after triumphing in major international competitions.
The purpose of the Vendome Prize is to seek out, reward, support, and guide future professional artists who are technically perfect, magnetic, original, and ambitious, in possession of a large repertoire and willing to endure the rigors of performance on tour.