Golden Keys international musical competition in Israel for 30th anniversary

Caroline Haïat

Digital Journalist

4 min read
International musical competition of the Golden Keys
Gérard GahnassiaInternational musical competition of the Golden Keys

This year, Israeli Arabs will be heavily represented in the contest

The international Golden Keys competition is being held in Israel on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.

The event, which represents all musical disciplines and aims to reveal the talents of tomorrow, takes place from June 6 to 9 at the Yad Harif conservatory at Kibbutz Mateh Yehuda in Jerusalem.

Created by the concert pianist Gérard Gahnassia in May 1992, in Villemomble in the Paris region, the competition is now present in fifteen countries around the world.

"I wanted to help young people taking their first steps in music and get them started," Gahnassia told i24NEWS.

"At the beginning, the mission was to found a regional competition only for the piano, then over the years we integrated the ensemble of instruments, including violin, flute, guitar, percussion, drums, accordion and even opera," the artistic director of Les Clés d'or said, adding: "I believe that we are almost the only ones to offer such a wide range of instruments."

Throughout the year, the competition is organized in different cities, where 1,500 to 2,000 candidates are auditioned. 

"We are aware of the fact that only about 5 percent of them will become professionals, but we encourage the others by giving them awards," said Gerard.

The jury, chaired by Gahnassia and made up of professionals for each discipline decides between the candidates in several categories: 5-7 years old, 7-12 years old, 12-15 years old and then 18-25 years old but also the adult amateur category.

"Everyone can try their luck," said Gahnassia. 

260 candidates including nearly 70 Israeli Arabs for Israel session

The competition was established in Israel in 2013, and has already taken place in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Modiin and Mateh Yehuda. 

Thanks to word of mouth, it has gained momentum in the Jewish state, bringing together around twenty candidates at its beginnings against 260 this year. A successful bet for Gahnassia.

"Setting up a French competition in Israel was not an easy task, but I dared and today we have candidates from all disciplines and from all origins: Jews, Russians, Druze but also Israeli Arabs who will be around 70," Gerard told i24NEWS.

Gérard Gahnassia
Gérard GahnassiaGérard Gahnassia, concert pianist, artistic director of Les Clés d'or

For the third time, the competition will be held this year in Mateh Yehuda where the candidates will be auditioned over four days by 35 members of the jury. They will have the choice of presenting a piece from the free or compulsory programs and awards will be given during a closing evening with deliberation by the jury at the end of each day of audition. 

“It is particularly close to my heart to organize the contest in Israel because I made Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) three years ago. Hearing the Golden Keys in my country has a special connotation. If we can allow some harmony between the Jewish and Arab Israeli communities during the competition and add our stone to the building thanks to the music, then I will be fulfilled," declared Gahnassia.

In early 2023, a grand gala will bring together the winners of Mateh Yehuda, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel in each discipline.

A partnership with France 2

Six years ago, Les Clés d'or developed a partnership with the program "Prodiges" on France 2. Each year, the channel's production team selects winners of the Golden Keys for the grand finale of its classical music competition and very often they become semi-finalists or winners, a source of immense pride for Gérard.

Les Clés d'or have also set up Master classes, with masters for each category of instruments.

For the 30th anniversary of the competition, a gala evening will take place on November 27 at the George Brassens theater in Villemomble, in the presence of former winners and members of the jury who will perform on stage but also headliners such as the host Nelson Monfort.

"For the 40th anniversary of the competition, I dream of organizing a grand final with the winners from each country," Gahnassia revealed to i24NEWS.

Caroline Haïat is a journalist for the French site of i24NEWS

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