Xuanhan Xu, Petar Pejčić and Felix Brunnenkant are the winners of the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2020

Xuanhan Xu (China) won the First Prize, Petar Pejčić (Serbia) the AENA Special Prize and Felix Brunnenkant (Germany) the Third Prize of the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2020. The jury also awarded honorary mentions to the rest of the finalists: Raffaella Cardaropoli (Italy), Tzu-Shao Chao (Taiwan), Jeremias Fliedl (Austria), Miquel Keenan Fuentes Bock (USA), Benjamin Kruithof (Luxembourg), Joseph Pritchard (UK) and Till Schuler (Alemania).

The final selection of the winners has been carried out virtually, the ten finalists have performed two pieces that they have recorded and that the jury has viewed. The jury, chaired by Marta Casals Istomin, co-founder and vice-president of the Pau Casals Foundation, and including internationally renowned cellists such as Claudio Bohórquez, Henri Demarquette, Gustav Rivinius, Arnau Tomàs (winner of the Pablo Casals Scholarship in 1991), and also by Bernard Meillat, artistic advisor of the Pau Casals Foundation and secretary of the jury, met on November 20, the date initially scheduled for the final audition, and deliberated by videoconference. Videos of the finalists will be available on our YouTube channel until November 24th.

For the first time, the Award has been opened to applicants from all over the world, and nominations have been received from 21 different countries. The jury highlighted the high technical and artistic level of the cellists. The aim of the Pablo Casals International Award is to support and improve the training of young cellists and it enjoys the special support of AENA and the collaboration of the Banco Sabadell Foundation.

1st Prize – Xuanhan Xu (China)
Student at Hochschule für Musik Saar (Germany)
Born in Hangzhou, China, in 2004, she began playing the piano at the age of five and the cello at the age of eight. She continued her studies in Germany at the age of 13 and is currently studying there at the Hochschule für Musik Saar in Saarbrücken under Gustav Rivinius. She performed with the National Centre of Performing Arts Orchestra in Beijing in 2017, becoming the youngest cellist to perform at that venue, and has performed with other international orchestras in both Asia and Europe.

AENA Special Prize – Petar Pejčić (Serbia)
Student at HMT Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Germany)
Born in Leskovac, Serbia, in 2002, he started playing the cello at the age of four and gave his first concert in Belgrade at the age of nine. He won his first competition in 2008 and has since won various other international competitions, including third prize in the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Berlin and second prize in the Anna Kull International Competition in Graz. He has given solo concerts and also performed with such orchestras as the Belgrade Chamber Orchestra and Belgrade Radio Symphony Orchestra. He is currently studying at the HMT Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig under Peter Bruns.

3rd Prize – Felix Brunnenkant (Germany)
Student at Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium (Austria)
Born in Überlingen, Germany, in 2001, he is studying cello at the Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium, Austria, under Professor Mathias Johansen and has performed Elgar’s Concerto with the Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium Orchestra and at the Saint-Saëns Concertoin Tonhalle in Düsseldorf and Graf-Zeppellin-Haus. He won the first prize in cello at the Jugend musiziert competition in Germany in 2019.

Honorary Mentions

Raffaella Cardaropoli (Italy)
Student at Barenboim-Said Akademie (Berlin)

Tzu-Shao Chao (Taiwan)
Student at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Germany)

Jeremias Fliedl (Austria)
Student at Universität Mozarteum Salzburg (Austria)

Miquel Keenan Fuentes Bock (USA)
Student at Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu (Spain)

Benjamin Kruithof (Luxembourg)
Student at Universität der Künste Berlin (Germany)

Joseph Pritchard (UK)
Student at Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” (Germany)

Till Schuler (Germany)
Student at Hochschule für Musik und Theather Hamburg (Germany)