I am grateful to this competition for introducing me to Yura Lee (yes, I go to meet her--she is an absolutely delightful person, and her superb musicianship reflects her personality completely). I believe that she has an original and necessary voice as a violinist, and I know that other violinists and other music lovers were moved and inspired by her performances in every round of the competition. For me her playing represents a living ideal of music making for all the right reasons: to engage performers and listeners in a kind of dance. She is a very generous musician, and she gives of herself in a very unselfish way. Because of her small size she has to work twice as hard as violinists with larger hands and longer arms. She is a physically small person, but she is a very large musician. Seeing such a small person make such large musical gestures can give the impression that those movements are extra-musical and unnecessary. In Yura Lee's case she is trying with every square inch of her body and her entire musical soul to set the air in the hall in musical motion.
In the "meet the jury" forum on Saturday, an audience member asked a question specifically about judging based on physical motion. The jury members that answered said that they did not take that into consideration at all. I don't think that such a thing is possible unless he/she is either blind or is unable to see the person performing.
Barnabas Keleman, the 2002 IVCI Gold Medal winner, played a wonderful recital between the semi-final round and the final round. He is a large man who plays with very large gestures, both musical and physical. There is no doubt that he is a great artist, and because of his physical size relative to Yura Lee, he can get away with large gestures.
I feel that Yura Lee should have gotten second place in this competition on the basis of her exceptional violin playing and extraordinary musicianship. I don't want her to change anything about her playing. I don't think that she should consider "toning down" the movement because it might get in the way of the marvelous (and original) things that she does as a musician.
The IVCI is planning to keep all the performances, not just the performances of the semi-finalists and finalists, archived on their website for three months (the interactive commemorative program guide is the best way to get to them).