James Vaughen wins Aeolus Competition

The first prize of the 17th International Aeolus Competition, endowed with 20,000 euros, went to James Vaughen on Sunday afternoon. The 24-year-old trumpeter from the USA is studying at the Curtis Institute of Music with Prof. David Bilger. In the prizewinners' concert at the Tonhalle Düsseldorf with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra, he was able to convince the eight-member jury under the direction of Hendrik Vestmann. Vaughen's professional career already includes positions as assistant principal trumpeter with the Grant Mark Music Festival and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The second prize of 15,000 euros went to Xianhua Liu. The 24-year-old tuba player from China is studying at the University of Music in Hanover with Prof. Jens Björn Larsen. He has already received numerous awards, including third place at the 57th Instrumental Competition in Markneukirchen in 2022. He was able to gain valuable experience in renowned orchestras such as the Hamburg State Opera, the Berlin Philharmonic and the NDR Radiophilharmonie. The third prize was awarded to Polina Tarasenko. The 22-year-old Ukrainian trombonist studied at the Gnesin Special Music School in Moscow and specialized in classical trombone. After completing her bachelor's degree with Prof. Jonas Bylund, she began her master's degree in music performance at HKB Bern University of the Arts with Prof. Ian Bousfield in 2022.

The special prize for the best interpretation of a contemporary piece went to Sophie Bright. The 18-year-old Swiss student is studying at the Bern University of the Arts with Ian Bousfield. In addition, she is the first trombone in the Bern Youth Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the swing-jazz sextet Coniglio Connection as principal trombonist. The International Aeolus Wind Competition is one of the most prestigious music competitions in the world and is advertised for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, trumpet, horn, trombone and tuba. It has been held once a year in Düsseldorf since 2006.

The Aeolus Competition is open to young musicians of all nationalities under the age of 28. Each year, three of the instrument groups are announced for the competition: in 2023 it was trombone, trumpet and tuba. The prize money amounts to a total of 60,000 euros, the first prize is endowed with 20,000 euros. The photo shows the winners of the competition with Prof. Thomas Leander, Rector of the Robert Schumann University of Applied Sciences, who was instrumental in supporting the competition with his university.

„…the Aeolus-Contest made it possible to delight Duesseldorf with a world class musical event and put itself on the top of the international competition scene since its inception. 

This much is certain, after the success in Duesseldorf the doors of big orchestras will be wide open for the winners.”

das Orchester
Magazine for Musicians and Management
Dezember 2018

Press about Aeolus Competition


"The International Aeolus winds competition has become one of the most acknowledged Music competitions of the world. What Tchaikowski or Chopin competition is for piano players, Aeolus is now for wind Players from all over the world: the top."

Rheinische Post, August 19/20, 2017


"Brass- and Woodwind Players on Maximum high Level. Excellent Concerts at International Aeolus winds competition."

NRZ, September 18, 2017


"The exclusive Musical Event of Düsseldorf which gained worldwide recognition."

WAZ, 7. September 2017


"The International Aeolus Competition for Wind Instruments has firmly established itself as a worldwide recognized stage for wind Instrument players."

Annual Book 2017, World Federation of International Music Competitions

"Sometimes the stress and disappointments in competitions also effect the judges of the competition. This was absolutely not the case at the Aeolus Competition in Düsseldorf; although not all the judges agreed with the results, which were very close, all finished the week only with deepest respect for each other."

"Roger Bobo's Blog" (Brass - Legend), October 25th 2016

Prof. Reinhold Friedrich about Aeolus Competition

"...It has gained a great importance in the music scene, it´s quite a phenomenon. It is really THE competition for wind players. We don´t really have many others: there is Munich, there is Marktneukirchen. Some years ago, there was Geneva. But today, Aeolus is really a first address for Brass and Wind players. I would not know which competition to put on the same level."

©WFIMC 2023/FR

>find the full interview here

At the 12th International Aeolus winds competition, there was no first prize this time. The eight-man jury awarded two second places after the Preisträgerkonzert in the Tonhalle Düsseldorf. They went to the French saxophonist Eudes Bernstein and to the Russians Matvey Demin. The 24-year-old flutist also won the audience price. Demin has been solo flutist in the Tonhalle Zurich orchestra for three years and has most recently studied with Prof. Andrea Lieberknecht in Munich.

The second prize-winner, Eudes Bernstein, is 23 years old and still studies with Prof. Claude Delangle in Paris. The third prize of the Aeolus competition went to the clarinetist Christoph Schneider. The 28-year-old has been the first soloklarinettist for the Duisburg Philharmonic since last year. Schneider, who most recently studied with Prof. Ralph Manno in Cologne, also won the special prize for the best interpretation of contemporary Music.