San Francisco teen wins prestigious award

For 32 minutes and 14 seconds, Kenneth Renshaw stood on a stage earlier this month in Beijing, clutching his violin as he played composer Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor.

The San Francisco 18-year-old’s performance vaulted him into the upper echelons of young violinists, earning him a first place in the prestigious international Menuhin Competition.

The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts senior said he is still recovering from the shock of the win.
“I’m so glad that they liked my playing,” he said from him home Thursday. “I’m just glad that I was able to get what I had to say musically out there.”

Renshaw remembers his first fascination with the violin at age 3.

“It was something about not just the sound, but the way one produced the sound fascinated me at that age,” he said. He started taking lessons when he was 5.

The win at Menuhin came with about a $10,000 prize and the one-year use of a “fine, old Italian violin,” according to the organizers.

Renshaw has been accepted to several universities including The Julliard School and is mulling over his choices.

Founded 27 years ago by violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the competition is for violinists younger than 22. Renshaw won in the senior category for those between 16 and 21 years of age.

The runners up in his age group included violinsts from China, Singapore and Korea, as well as one other teen from the United States.

In the junior category, a Bay Area resident also won top honors. Kevin Zhu, an 11-year-old from  Cupertino, won about $5,000 and the use of one of those fine, old violins.

The two winners both study with teacher Li Lin, Renshaw said.

“I could not have asked for a better person to prepare for this competition,” Renshaw said of his teacher. “He knew exactly what to say to me to bring out every lost drop of what I had to say musically inside.”

To see the jaw-dropping performances of both winners, click the following links:

Kenneth Renshaw in the Menuhin finals

Kevin Zhu in the Menuhin finals

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