Violinists Lun Li and Tianyou Ma share first prize in third annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition

Contacts:  Susan Barbash, Competition Coordinator [email protected]  516-639-8575

Christina Dahl, Department Chair, Stony Brook University Department of Music  [email protected]  631-632-7330  

Stony Brook, New York

Violinists Lun Li and Tianyou Ma share first prize in third annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition

Violinists Lun Li and Tianyou Ma have each won a First Prize in the third annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition for strings.  Messrs. Li and Ma were two of five finalists who advanced from a field of over 115 entrants from all over the globe.  This year’s competition returned in person to the Staller Center Recital Hall on the Stony Brook University campus and was streamed on the Violin Channel. Messrs. Li and Ma’s stunning performances of Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor BWV 100 and Sonata No. 3 in C major BWV 1005 respectively, earned them each an award of $5000, and a performance with the Island Symphony Bach Festival. The two will perform Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor BWV 1043 with the Island Symphony in a free concert on Sunday, January 30, 2022, at St. Peter’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 500 South Country Road Bay Shore, New York.

Lun Li, violinist, is a native of Shanghai, China. A winner of the 2021 Young Concert Artists International Audition, he recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Ida Kavafian, and was the Jean J. Sterne Fellowship recipient. In 2017 he served as the concertmaster of the Pacific Festival Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival, and the Verbier Festival Academy. He is now pursuing a master’s degree at the Juilliard School.

Tianyou Ma was born in 2000 in Shenzhen, China and began playing violin at age three. After studies at the Elder Conservatorium and the Yehudi Menuhin School, he was accepted by the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of Pamela Frank and Shmuel Ashkenasi. He has performed widely as a soloist and won top prizes in numerous international competitions, including the Menuhin Violin Competition in 2018. Also an active chamber music and orchestral player, he most recently participated in the 2021 Verbier Festival Academy.

On receiving their awards, Mr. Li said “I had a memorable time at Stony Brook University this week. Thanks to the Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition for their incredible generosity and support to the younger generation of artists. It was truly an enjoyable experience for all of us.” Mr. Ma added, “Playing unaccompanied Bach is the true test of a musician. The opportunity to perform for such a distinguished group of jurors was an amazing experience.”

The illustrious jurors for the third annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition were cellist Colin Carr, violinist, Eugene Drucker, and harpsichordist Arthur Haas, all faculty members at the Stony Brook University Department of Music; and violinists, Marilyn McDonald, Professor of Violin at the Oberlin Conservatory, and Robert Mealy, Director of Historical Performance at the Juilliard School.

Said juror, cellist Colin Carr, “It is no exaggeration to say that the competition, in only its third year, is attracting world class talent from across the globe. It was a joy for me personally to be involved, and the jury was unanimous in awarding the joint first prize to two young artists whose artistry is irresistible!

Robert Mealy said, “All five finalists were compelling – and our two first prize winners thrilled the jury with their outstanding brilliance and musicality. The level throughout this competition was extremely high. It was a great pleasure to hear so many committed and persuasive readings of Bach!”

Hear the finals on the Violin Channel:

The Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition was established by siblings Cathy, Susan, and Shepard Barbash to honor their parents for their lifelong support of the arts.  The annual competition is for string players age 16-30 who are required to perform any piece composed by J. S. Bach for unaccompanied string instrument.

The fourth annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition will be held at Stony Brook University in December 2022. Details tba.

For complete information about the competition and the Island Symphony Bach Festival visit

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