The German violinist Iskandar Widjaja has gained wide popularity both in Germany, where he was born and trained, and in his ancestral homeland of Indonesia. He has performed both traditional and crossover material. Widjaja (roughly, weed-JEYE-uh) was born in Berlin on June 6, 1986. His parents were Indonesians of Chinese, Dutch, and Arab background. He took up the violin at age four and showed developing talent by age 11, enrolling at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin as a junior student. In 2003, he began university studies at Berlin's University of the Arts, working with Ilan Gronich and Uwe-Martin Haiberg. A scholarship also enabled him to study at the University of Indiana Music School in the U.S. Prizes began to come his way, including a 2004 win at the Jugend Musiziert (Youth Making Music) competition, as well as another victory at the International Hindemith Competition four years later. Widjaja earned the Gerd Bucerius scholarship of the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben that same year, using the proceeds to travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, for master classes with Ida Haendel and Shlomo Mintz; he has also studied with Christian Tetzlaff and Midori, among others. Widjaja's concert career has covered five continents and included appearances with such ensembles as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, as well as several European summer festivals. At the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2016, he gave the world premiere of John Williams' Suite for violin and orchestra ("Across the Stars"). Widjaja and his management have shown a flair for landing performance slots at major international events such as the Miss World Contest, Paris Fashion Week, and the opening of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Bali, Indonesia. His success in Indonesia has been especially notable given the comparative scarcity of Western classical music in that country: he has not only performed traditional concerts with the Jakarta Philharmonic Orchestra but has also been involved with educational projects sponsored by UNICEF, the World Wrestling Federation, and the Indonesian newspaper Kompas, providing instruments and music lessons. In Indonesia, Widjaja has near-pop star status, and news developments pertaining to him have made Twitter's trending-topic list. Widjaja made his recording debut on the prestigious Oehms label in Germany with the album Bach 'n' Blues in 2011. In 2019, he was tabbed to perform the new Violin Concerto "1001 Nights in the Harem" by Turkish composer Fazil Say; the album appeared on the major Sony Classical label.
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