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13-Year-Old Pre-College Violinist Finalist in Global Competition

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Violinist Ava Pakiam was the only United States finalist for her category in the Arthur Grumiaux International Violin Competition in Brussels, Belgium.

April 14, 2023 by Mark Taylor

One SFCM Pre-College student should get ready to take a bow.

Thirteen-year-old Ava Pakiam has played her way into being a finalist in the Arthur Grumiaux International Violin Competition in Brussels, Belgium at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Ava is the only USA representative in her age category competing against dozens of other young violinists from all over the world. 

Ava Pakiam performing in Brussels.

Ava Pakiam performing in Brussels.

“So honored to be named a finalist with so many amazing candidates. Congrats to everyone for their awesome performances!” Ava wrote on social media this week. 

Ava has been part of SFCM’s Pre-College division since she was seven years old, working with Violin Professor Simon James. “Ava is gaining incredible experience at the competition and she is completely stoked! I’m delighted for her recognition!” James said of his longtime student. “Her natural gift as a performer is really on display and the violin universe is taking note,” he added.

@sfconservmusic ✨ 12 year old Pre-College student Ava Pakiam stuns with @Seattle Symphony✨#classicalmusic #violin #violinist #prodigy original sound - SFCM

This is not the first time Ava has made headlines: the young violinist performed as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony last year after competing in the Seattle Young Artist Competition and being named one of their 2022 Young Artists. Video of her performance went viral on SFCM’s social media channels including garnering some 3.2 million views on TikTok.

Off the stage when not practicing, Ava has also been making the most of the trip, "The level of playing is very high and inspiring. She has been attending as much of the other performances as possible and learning so much along the way," Ava's mother Amy Beth Horman said, "It has also been amazing to meet other violinists like her and make new friendships," she added. 

The International Arthur Grumiaux Competition for Young Violinists was first held in 2008. Its jury is chaired by George Tudorache of Romania. The selected winners perform at the laureates concert at the conclusion of the competition April 16. 

Learn more about studying Violin or the Pre-College division at SFCM.