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Virgile Roche, winner of the Safran Foundation for Music prize 2020.

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The Safran Foundation for Music prize 2020 was awarded to Virgile Roche on Monday 12 October following a competition involving five top-level young pianists. Discover (and listen to) this young talent, who will be supported by the Foundation throughout his career. Turn your computer audio on!

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This 13th edition took place at La Scala Paris for the first time on 12 October. The candidates performed a set piece ("Jeux d'eau" by Maurice Ravel) and one or two pieces of their own choosing. The panel, made up of five music industry professionals, was won over by Virgile Roche's performance, who was unanimously named the competition winner. In addition to the set piece, Virgile played "Tarentelle de Venezia e Napoli" by Franz Liszt. 

Virgile Roche, a promising talent

Born in 1998, Virgile Roche began his music studies at Clermont-Ferrand Conservatory, where he won piano and chamber music awards. He was admitted to the Superior Conservatory of Paris (CNSMDP) at the age of 17 and studied piano there from September 2016 under Emmanuel Strosser and Cécile Hugonnard-Roche as an undergraduate, then under Marie-Josèphe Jude and Jonas Vitaud on a Master's. Afterwards, he was also admitted to the courses on accompaniment, chamber music (with Claire Désert, as well as the members of the Wanderer trio) and writing, where he won harmony and counterpoint awards. 

Thanks to the Erasmus+ programme, he is currently perfecting his skills in Geneva under Nelson Goerner. Regularly performing recitals and concertos, Virgile also has an interest in chamber music. He founded the Pantoum trio, which won a second award at the International Competition in Illzach in April 2019 and was selected for the next edition of the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan.

This autumn, he will be performing Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Pantoum trio and the CRR Nice Orchestra, as well as at the Pontoise Baroque Music Festival in a brand-new programme combining Scarlatti's sonatas with the music of Berio, Scelsi, Sciarrino and Stroppa.

The Safran Foundation for Music has formed an educational partnership with the National Superior Conservatory of Paris for Music and Dance (CNSMDP) to record this competition for the second year running. 


Listen to Virgile Roche's performance of Ravel's "Jeux d’eau":

How does the Foundation for Music Prize work?

To award its prize, the Safran Foundation for Music regularly identifies the most promising young people from several leading French schools, the National Superior Conservatories for Music and Dance in Paris and Lyon notably. For the first time this year, the Foundation carried out a preselection – involving a "blind" listening session – of the five candidates who took part in the competition, with the candidates in previous awards having been exclusively put forward by the National Superior Conservatory of Paris. At the concert for the final of the competition, the candidates have to display their skills by playing two pieces – one set and one of their own choosing – before a panel of professionals, which picks the winner. This person receives the prize and funding. The Foundation then provides support as needed (continued studies, financing for a recording, etc.) to help them as they start out in their career.