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Meadows Alumnus Santiago Cañón-Valencia Wins Second Prize and “Audience Favorite” at the 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition

Win is the latest in a succession of awards for 2015 Performer’s Diploma graduate

Partial List of Santiago Cañón-Valencia Awards and Prizes

2019 Tchaikovsky International Competition, Cello, second prize

2019 Tchaikovsky International Competition, Cello, Online Audience Favorite, first prize

2018 János Starker Award

2017 Sphinx Competition, Senior Division, second prize

2017 Queen Elisabeth International Competition, Brussels, third prize

2016 Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition, first prize

2014 Lennox International Young Artists Competition for Strings, first prize

2014 Pablo Casals Competition/Cello, third prize

2013 Gaspar Cassadó International Cello Competition, Best Interpretation

2012 Johansen International Competition for Young String Players, second prize

2011 Gisborne International Music Competition, first prize

2010 Beijing International Music Competition, top prize

2009 Adam International Cello Competition, Most Promising Young Performer

International cellist Santiago Cañón-Valencia has added yet another notable competition prize to his collection. In addition to the János Starker Award in 2018 and third prize in the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels in 2017, Cañón-Valencia recently won second prize at the prestigious 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition/Cello Category, held in Moscow June 18–27, 2019. He also took home the online Audience Favorite award.

Wins at the Tchaikovsky, considered by many to be the biggest and most competitive music competition of all, further propel Cañón-Valencia’s meteoric trajectory.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he will go on to have a fabulous career,” says professor and mentor Andrés Díaz, under whom Cañón-Valencia studied while at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Díaz, himself a renowned cellist who performs around the world, describes Cañón-Valencia as “one of the absolute finest living cellists.”

Other professional musicians and classical music experts also recognize Cañón-Valencia’s rising star. In a review of his CD Diable Vert, recorded with pianist Katherine Austin, the NZ [New Zealand] Herald describes Cañón-Valencia’s playing as one of “lyrical poignancy,” “energetic” and “incandescent.” The Violin Channel calls him an “emerging young concert artist of outstanding potential.” Of his first CD, Solo, The Strad cites “Masterful playing in a highly persuasive solo cello programme” and calls the recording “technically flawless ... memorably atmospheric ... fantastically fluid.”

In an interview by Paris-based classical music channel, which awards the Tchaikovsky Audience Favorite prize, Cañón-Valencia says winning second prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition was “a dream come true.”

“Being a medalist at the Tchaikovsky Competition, while also being the first Colombian to do so, is definitely something very big for me,” said Cañón-Valencia. “However, what makes the award even more special is that I am now part of the Tchaikovsky Competition’s history, one that is filled with great artists, many of whom are idols of mine. It’s a really humbling experience to belong to that group of artists who have left their mark in the competition’s history.”

In addition to study with Andrés Díaz at SMU Meadows, Cañón-Valencia has studied under Henryk Zarzycki in Colombia and James Tennant in New Zealand. He is currently pursuing a professional studies degree with Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt at the Kronberg Academy in Germany.

Bogota-born Cañón-Valencia made his orchestral debut as a soloist with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá when he was six years old. Since then, he has appeared with all the major orchestras in his native Colombia, and his international solo career has taken him around the world to perform with orchestras such as the Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev, Brussels Philharmonic with Stephane Deneve, St. Petersburg Philharmonic with Nikolai Alexeev, Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with Janos Kovacs, Moscow Soloists with Yuri Bashmet, The Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie with Frank Braley, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Münchener Kammerorchester with Clemens Schuldt and Antwerp Symphony with Muhai Tang, among others.

When not rehearsing or performing, Cañón-Valencia enjoys painting and prefers working in the digital realm.

Cañón-Valencia is a Thomastik Infeld artist.

Read more about Santiago Cañón-Valencia and hear samples of his recordings and performances; professor and international cellist Andrés Díaz; and the SMU Meadows Division of Music.

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