Category Archives: Past Winners

10th Contest 1988 – Isabelle Moretti, France

Isabelle Moretti, First Prize Winner of the 10th International Harp Contest in Israel, is one of the most entrancing harpists in the musical world today. She is a vibrant, lively figure of exceptional talent, bringing inimitable style to her instrument – with generosity, sincerity and dignity.


Crowned with international competition prizes in Geneva, Munich and Israel, Isabelle Moretti is engaged by the world’s greatest concert halls, such as New York’s Alice Tully Hall; London’s Wigmore Hall; Paris’s Auditorium du Louvre, Opéra Comique, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Salle Gaveau and Masion de Radio-France; the Metz Arsenal; and the Folle Journée in Nantes.


Isabelle Moretti has performed as a soloist with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Bremen Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Stuttgart Kammerorchester, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Orquestra de Córdoba, Orquesta Sinfónica de la RTVE, Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, SWR Sinfonieorchester, Warsaw National Symphony Orchestra, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She also toured with the Zagreb soloists. Recently she appeared with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.


Isabelle Moretti’s solo repertoire encompasses eighteenth-century music, up to the most complex contemporary world premieres. In 2006, she gave the world premiere of Philippe Hersant’s harp concerto Le tombeau de Virgile at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, together with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris as part of Paris de la Musique. In the same year she also gave the world premiere of Michèle Reverdy’s harp concerto with the l’Orchestre National de Lille.


Isabelle Moretti particularly likes chamber music, and shares it regularly with her friends Magali Mosnier, François Leleux, Philippe Bernold, Henri Demarquette, and the Ebène, Parisii and Psophos string quartets.


Her rich, varied discography has enjoyed great media success, including a Victoire de la Musique, the Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque, the Prix Charles Cros, a Choc du Monde de la Musique, a Dix de Répertoire, and a top rating by Télérama.


In 2012, Isabelle will again perform solo recitals in Germany (including, notably, the world premiere of Cantus II by Thierry Escaich). She will also perform with the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, in Geneva with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and the Ginastera Concerto, at the Festival de St Cosmes, in Paris with the Orchestre des Champs Elysées, in Auch with Dame Felicity Lott, and in Toulouse with Magali Mosnier, to name but a few.


An impassioned teacher, Isabelle Moretti gives masterclasses throughout the world, and teaches at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de la Musique et de la Danse de Paris (CNSMD). Since 2008, she has also been Visiting Professor at London’s Royal Academy of Music.


Isabelle Moretti is a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.


13th Contest 1998 – Gwyneth Wentink, Holland

Gwyneth Wentink, First Prize Winner of the 13th International Harp Contest in Israel, is renowned for her passionate performances, amazing range of colours and incredible technique. At 28 years of age, she has performed solo recitals and solo concertos with top orchestras all over the world. In addition to her concerto performances, Gwyneth is a dedicated chamber musician.

“Gwyneth plays straight from the heart, without pose or for effect. It is solely about the music” NRC 2008


Highlights of the 2010/2011 season include a concert tour with the Kirwani Quartet through India in January 2011 and the United States in the fall of 2011. In November 2011 Gwyneth performed the harp concerto of A.Ginstera with the Balearic Symphony Orchestra under Salvador Brotons in Palma de Mallorca. Other highlights will be solo- and chamber music performances in New York, Boston, Frankfurt, London and Paris.


In past seasons, Gwyneth has performed as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic, the New York Chamber Symphony, the Philharmonic Orchestre of Bergen, the Helsinki Philharminic, the San Diego Chamber Orchestre, the Orquesta Sinfonica Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, the Brussels Philharmonic, the National Orchestre of Belgium,the World Youth Orchestra, the Sudwest Rundfunk Orchestre, the National Orchestre of Bucharest, as with many orchestras in The Netherlands, such as the Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra, Gelders Orkest, Brabants Orkest, Residentie Orkest, Orkest van het Oosten, Limburgs Symphony Orkest and more. Conductors Ms Wentink has worked with include Joel Lévy, Simone Young, Peter Eötvos, Jorge Mester, Roberto Benzi, Mikko Franck and Ed Spanjaard.


Gwyneth played solo recitals all over the world. She performed extensively in Europe and

throughout the USA in more than 16 states. In 1999 she gave her recital début in New York (Merkin Hall) as well as in London (Wigmore Hall). In March 2002 she gave her debut concert at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.


Gwyneth Wentink plays with great passion in a variety of chamber music ensembles all over the world and is dedicated to exploring new sound scapes and repertoire for the harp. She forms duo’s with renowned cellist Larissa Groeneveld and with flutist Felicia van den End and forms ensembles with the Rubens Quartet and the Dutch Harp Trio. A variety of compositions have been written for Gwyneth by, among others, Marius Flothuis, Sergei Natra and Roel van Oosten.


Since 2005 she plays with the world famous Indian bansuri player Pt.Hariprasad Chaurassia, saxophonist George Brooks and tabla player Vijay Gathe in the “Kirwani Quartet”and brings the harp into the world of classical Indian music.


In addition to her performances as a soloist and as a chamber musician, Gwyneth is principal harpist with John Eliot Garndiner’s Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique.


Gwyneth’s solo CD, issued by Egan Records, was selected by the Dutch CD Magazine ‘Luister’ as the month’s best buy. In the fall of 2006 Naxos brought out a CD of Gwyneth playing three Harp Concerto’s by Rodrigo. ´Rhapsody´, her second solo CD was extremely well received by the critics.


Daughter of Dutch-Hungarian musicians, Gwyneth started playing the harp at the age of five and had her first performances at the age of six. Her extraordinary talent was soon discovered and she studied with Erika Waardenburg from the age of eight until completing her studies with highest possible marks and was awarded a distinction at the age of nineteen.


Gwyneth has won numerous first prices. In The Netherlands at the Prinses Christina Concours, The SJMN and others. Internationally she won first prices in Japan at The International Nippon Harp Competition in Tokyo, the Torneo Internazionale di Musica in Rome. In 1998 she won the most prestigious Contest of all, The International Harp Contest in Israel, where she became the youngest contestant ever to win this competition and was given the special Gulbenkian Prize for the best performance of the Concerto for harp and orchestra by R.M.Schafer. In 1999 Ms. Wentink gained first prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York at the age of 17. She is the first solo harpist ever to be awarded this distinction in Young Concert Artists’40-year history. She has been awarded the Beracasa Foundation Prize, the Mortimer Levitt Career Development Award. In 2000 Gwyneth received the Aaron & Irene Diamond Soloist Prize followed by the Netherland-America Foundation Prize in 2001. The VSCD Classical Musicprize `New Generation`has been awarded to Gwyneth in November 2007. In April 2007 Gwyneth received the Dutch Music Award 2007, which is the highest distinction awarded to musicians in The Netherlands.


Gwyneth plays on Salvi Iris Harp, from the collection of the Nationaal Muziek Instrumenten Fonds.

For more information on Ms. Wentink, please visit


14th Contest 2001 – Letizia Belmondo, Italy

In February 2001, Letizia Belmondo won the First Prize in the 14th International Harp Contest in Israel as well as the “Esther Herlitz” Special Prize for the best performance of a contemporary piece. She is First Harpist at the Opéra Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels and is Professor of harp at the “Haute ècole de Musique de Lausanne” (Switzerland).

After her international debut at age fourteen with the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, Letizia Belmondo won an impressive number of competitions and awards, including the Victor Salvi Competition in 1995, the Società Umanitaria in 1998, the Rovere d’Oro in 1997, the Martine Geliot Prize in the Lille Harp Competition in 1999, the Franz Schubert Competition in 1999, the International Harp Competition in Lausanne in 2000, and finally The International Harp Contest in Israel, 2001.

Following her debut at the Wigmore Hall in London, Letizia has performed to great acclaim throughout Europe and the United States. Most recently, in 2009, she performed the Reniè Concerto for harp in C minor with both the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Nir Kabaretti conducting, in 2011. With the RAI Symphony Orchestra of Turin, she performed the Villa Lobos Concerto for harp and orchestra in 2010.

In 2002 she recorded her first solo CD (Harp Recital) for “Egan records”. In January 2006 she recorded the Harp Concertos of Glière and Zabel and the Mozart Piano Concerto No.6, KV238, transcribed for harp, with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

After her debut as solist with the “Mozart” Orchestra in Italy, she was invited by Maestro Claudio Abbado to record the Mozart Concerto for flute and harp with Deutsche Grammophone, in June 2008.

Letizia Belmondo served on the Jury of the 17th International Harp Contest in Israel, 2009, and appeared in the Gala Opening Concert of that Contest celebrating the 50th anniversary of The International Harp Contest in Israel performing the Concerto in C minor by Henriette Renie with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Nir Kabaretti conducting. Maestro Kabaretti invited her for repeat performances with the Santa Barbara Symphony (California) in 2011.

Since June 2005 Letizia Belmondo is the First Harpist at the Opéra Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels. She has worked with conductors such as M. Wung Chung, K. Ono, M. Benini, A. Fisher, C. Rizzi, R. Frühbeck de Burgos and since 2008 she is regularly invited to play with the Luzern Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado.

From 2006 to 2008 Ms. Belmondo was teaching assistant to M. Fabrice Pierre at the CNSMD in Lyon (France) and in 2011 she accepted the teaching position as professor of harp at the “Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne” (Switzerland).

Letizia Belmondo is frequently invited to give Master Classes in Europe and in the USA and to serve on the Jury in several International Harp Competitions such as the International Harp Contest in Israel and the “Lily Laskine” Competition in Paris.

Letizia was born in Turin in 1981 and began studying the harp at age eight at the Suzuki Talent Center in Turin. She continued her studies on the harp at the Conservatoire G. Verdi in Turin with Gabriella Bosio and, thanks to a De Sono Scholarship, at the CNSMD of Lyon, France, with Fabrice Pierre, where she graduated with honours in 2002, and at the Juilliard School, New York, with Nancy Allen. She also had the opportunity to follow Master Classes and to study with Judith Liber.

Her musical formation was completed by the study of the cello, which started at age five and continued with Antonio Mosca at the Conservatorio “G. Verdi” in Turin until 1999.

Ms. Belmondo plays the Lyon & Healy King David Harp that was built in 2000, especially for the First Prize Winner of The International Harp Contest in Israel in 2001, marking 3000 years of the City of Jerusalem.

15th Contest 2003 – Varvara Ivanova, Russia

After taking First Prize in the 15th International Harp Contest in Israel in 2003, seventeen year old Varvara Ivanova, praised by critics and audiences alike, performed in major concert venues in Western Europe, Russia and Israel. Following her London debut performance in Wigmore Hall with the London Chamber Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Simon, British critic Edward Johnson wrote: “Ivanova demonstrated that she is a born virtuoso. Her sensitivity, beauty of sound and musicality captured the near-capacity audience … one of the very few harpists who can simultaneously awe and charm.”

In November 2003, Varvara Ivanova, along with winning first prize at the prestigious International Harp Contest in Israel, she received the special award for her performance of Ami Ma’ayani’s “Maqamat”.

Ms. Ivanova was born into a family of musicians in Moscow and at the age of five began her studies at the Preparatory of Moscow Conservatory in the class of M.F. Maslennikova. A child prodigy, she had her first major performance of the Handel’s “Concerto for harp and Orchestra B-dur” at the age of seven at the Big Concert Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with Kremlin Chamber Orchestra.

Throughout her emerging career, Varvara has been awarded major prizes in numerous harp competitions, including first prize at the Lily Laskine Harp Competition, Junior Division, in France and first prize at the Vera Dulova Harp Competition in Russia. She has also been awarded the highly-coveted scholarship from the Rostropovich Music Fund.

In November 2001, Ms. Ivanova replaced Xavier de Maistre, principal harpist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, on one week notice, on a tour in Germany as a soloist with the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra and performed to critical acclaim in Dusseldorf Tonhalle, Hamburg Musikhalle, Munchen Prinzeregentertheater and Frankfurt Alte Oper. A year later, she was a featured soloist at the World Harp Congress in Geneva, Switzerland.

Varvara has also performed as a soloist with other prestigious orchestras, including Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Primo Allegro Chamber Orchestra and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ms. Ivanova studied at the Music College named after F. Chopin in the class of E.A. Moskvitina in Moscow . Recently, she performed solo and chamber music on a concert tour in Russiaand participated in concerts in London, Paris, Vilnius under the auspices of the Rostropovich Music Fund .

She performed recitals at Bemus Music Festival in Belgrade in 2004, Gstaat Music Festival in Switzerland, Harp Music Festival in Belgrade in 2005 as well as Varvara recitals in Italy.

Varvara presented her New York debut at Merkin Hall and performed a series of concerts in the United States in the Spring of 2005, sponsored by the Victor Salvi Foundation.


16th contest 2006 – Sivan Magen, Israel

Praised by the press as “a magician” (New York’s WQXR) whose “brilliant sound and remarkable technical acumen shatter any stereotype of his instrument” (The NY Times), Sivan Magen transforms the harp into an expressive, colorful and virtuosic instrument, moving it to center stage through the exploration of the standard repertoire, the commissioning of today’s composers and his new adaptations to the harp of some of the greatest music of the last three centuries. In addition to his activities as a soloist and chamber musician, since fall 2017 he is Principal Harpist of the Finnish Radio Symphony.

The only Israeli to have ever won the International Harp Contest in Israel, Magen is a winner of the Pro Musicis International Award and in 2012 was chosen by a committee headed by Dame Mitsuko Uchida as the winner of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He appeared as a soloist across the US, South America, Europe and Israel, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Vienna Konzerthaus, and with orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.

Aside from his activity as a soloist, Mr Magen is an avid chamber musician and has appeared at the Marlboro, Aspen, Rosendal, Kuhmo, Delft, and Jerusalem International Chamber Music festivals, with Musicians from Marlboro, and collaborated with artists such as Nobuko Imai, Shmuel Ashkenazi, Gary Hoffman, Emmanuel Pahud, Susanna Phillips, the Danel, Pacifica, Ariel, Calder, New Helsinki and Dover quartets and members of the Guarneri and Juilliard Quartets.

He is a founding member of trio Tre Voci with flutist Marina Piccinini and violist Kim Kashkashian, with whom he has toured extensively in Europe and the US, and has released to great critical acclaim a CD for ECM of music by Debussy, Gubaidulina and Takemitsu. They are constantly working to expand the flute-viola-harp repertoire by commissioning arrangements and original pieces – their 2018 program included a new commission of a trio by Toshio Hosokawa which had its European premiere at London’s Wigmore Hall.

Since January 2008 Mr Magen is also a founding member of the Israeli Chamber Project, a group which performs in both outreach venues and major concert halls in Israel and the US, including the Israeli Conservatory in Tel Aviv, the Embassy Series in Washington D.C. and Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Town Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, the Morgan Library and Bargemusic in New York City. The ICP is the winner of the 2011 Israeli Ministry of Culture Outstanding Ensemble Award. This past season, which was their 10th anniversary season, included extended tours in the west coast of the US, as well as in Canada, Europe and Israel.

Sivan Magen has released two solo albums for Linn Records, Fantasien, which includes mostly his own transcriptions of fantasies ranging from Bach to Brahms, and French Reflections, which explores connections between the French repertoire of the early 20th and of the early 21st centuries. Additionally were released to great critical acclaim a CD with the Israeli Chamber Project for Azica Records as well as an all-Britten CD Still Falls the Rain with tenor Nicholas Phan for Avie (listed in the NY Times’ “Best recordings of 2012”). His performance of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro is featured on the Marlboro festival’s 60th Anniversary CD.

Mr Magen is also gaining a reputation as a sought-after teacher, presenting masterclasses in schools such as The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute, The Peabody Institute, The New England Conservatory, the Paris Conservatory, London’s Royal Academy, Royal College, Guildhall School and Trinity College, as well as the summer Academy in Nice, the Kuhmo Festival Academy in Finland, and the Aspen Music Festival. In addition, he has been invited to serve as member of the jury of the International Harp Contest in Israel, the first Netherlands International Harp Competition, the Lyon & Healy Awards and the 2011 Vera Dulova International Harp Competition in Moscow, and served as Head of the Jury of the 2007 National
Harp Contest in Taiwan. Between 2013-2017 he was a faculty member of the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, and in spring 2017 he was an invited professor at the Paris Conservatory.

Born in Jerusalem, Sivan Magen studied the piano with Benjamin Oren and Talma Cohen and the harp with Irena Kaganovsky-Kessler at the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance. After completing his military service as an “Outstanding Musician” in 2001, he continued his studies  With Germaine Lorenzini in France and then joined Isabelle Moretti’s harp class at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP) from which he graduated with a “Premier Prix”. He has then completed a Master of Music degree as a student of Nancy Allen at the Juilliard School.