Virtuosos V4+, a popular TV show broadcast in five different countries that invites young talented musicians to compete against each other, is something like the classical music version of reality shows such as Pop Idol and SuperStar. Of the thousands of young hopefuls who apply, twenty are chosen to perform on television, with one winner finally selected from each of the five competing countries.
The show brings a glitzy format to classical music and has even welcomed some celebrities to its judging panel, such as Guy Pratt, the legendary bass guitarist from Pink Floyd, Steven Mercurio, the American musical director of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and the world-famous Croatian cellist Hauser.
Founded in Hungary in 2014, this was the third year that the competition was extended to the other Visegrad Group (V4) countries – the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia – as well as a rotating fifth country, which this time was Slovenia. The 2022 winner for the Czech Republic was sixteen-year-old violinist Roman Červinka from České Budějovice. In an interview with Czech Radio’s České Budějovice regional station, he said that music is the most important thing in his life.
“I couldn’t imagine life without it. I enjoy a variety of genres, not just classical music, but of course I want young people to listen to classical music as well and for it not to disappear.”
Červinka comes from a family of musicians – his mother is a violinist in the South Bohemian Philharmonic and his father is a concert master in the South Bohemian Theatre. However, he says it was his decision, not his parents’, for him to start playing the violin.
“I remember that my parents asked me if I wanted to play football or the violin. Since a young age I’d been picking up my parents’ instruments and listened to them practising, so I told them that I 100% wanted to play the violin.”
Virtuosos has been very successful in Hungary, where it is broadcast on state television. The program’s popularity has meant thousands of auditions by young musicians and has even boosted applications to music schools. Winning the competition doesn’t just mean prestige, but also brings with it a 10,000 euro cash prize and opportunities for the young protégés to develop their talents and careers, such as the chance to perform solo at a concert with an internationally recognized artist.
One of the judges of the Virtuosos V4+ competition in 2022 was Gabriela Rachidi, also from South Bohemia and director of the Český Krumlov International Music Festival:
“The standard of musicianship was incredibly high and I’m very happy that Roman Červinka had such great success. We are already looking forward to what he’s going to do in future. We spoke about where else he is going to perform – for example, he will be performing with Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo. So these are the kind of opportunities that young talented musicians get from the competition.”
This wasn’t Červinka’s first time performing in an international competition, but he says Virtuosos was different for a few reasons.
“We got the opportunity to travel around Hungary – I’d never been there before so that was an interesting experience for me. And of course the fact that the show was broadcast, so there were cameras everywhere, and famous stars on the judging panel.”