An Insider’s Guide

Not your regular pre-concert lecture – more like wine tasting with the actual vintner.

NZ’s leading tertiary violin lecturers candidly reveal what the competitors will be finding challenging and what the judges are really listening for when they choose the next winner.

A key part of the Competition’s programme, Insider’s Guide sessions are held at the start of each day to provide audiences with a greater understanding and appreciation of the gauntlet the violinists are running.

Free to all ticket-holders.

 Have a question for our Insider’s Guide speakers? Ask us here.


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  • Friday 2 June  2:30 – 3:00pm

    Stephen Larsen

    Why Bach?
    Stephen Larsen discusses the reasons that Bach is still regarded as an essential part of the violinists’ repertoire in the 21st century.

    Saturday 3 June  9:30 – 10:00am

    Andrew Beer

    Technical Brilliance
    Andrew opens the lid on virtuosic violin techniques heard throughout the Queenstown rounds. Triplestops, intonation, ricochet, artificial harmonics… how many do you know already?

    Sunday 4 June  9:30 – 10:00am

    Stephen Larsen & Karlo Margetic

    On an Imaginary Folk Song
    Our 2017 commissioned composer talks with Stephen about his compositional approach and writing for solo violin.

    Sunday 4 June  2:00 – 2:30pm

    Gary Leahy

    What about the Bow?
    Irish Bowmaker with Kiwi roots, Gary Leahy reveals the attributes of the bow and why it is as important as the violin.

    Monday 5 June   9:30 – 10:00am

    Andrew Beer

    The Perfect Pairing
    Violin and piano sonatas are amongst the richest in the repertoire and favourites for the player and audience are performed in this round.

  • Wednesday 7 June   6:30 – 7:00pm

    Lara Hall

    The Mozart String Quintets
    Each one is a masterpiece in its own right. Lara discusses the sublime Quintets from a violinist’s point of view.

    Saturday 10 June  6:30 – 7:30pm

    Martin Riseley

    Soloist with Orchestra – the different ways the violin can be written for and performed in this medium
    The approaches a player must have to their instrument when in a large hall with a full symphony orchestra are different from smaller settings. What changes does he or she have to make to how they play? And who’s in charge, the conductor or the soloist?.

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  • 2015_selection_panel_andrew_beer
    Andrew Beer
    University of Auckland, concertmaster Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

    Violinist Andrew Beer has been described as a “virtuoso soloist” by the San Francisco Classical Voice, as possessing a “glorious string tone” by Strad Magazine, as a performer displaying “accuracy and subtle charisma” by the Boston Globe, and as a “musical gift” by the New York Times. He has performed extensively throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia, and his performances have been broadcast on NHK Japan, Vietnamese television, CBC Radio-Canada, Minnesota Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio, WQXR New York, Radio NZ Concert FM and ABC Classic FM.

    As a soloist, he has performed with leading orchestras in Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Boston, Catania and Auckland, with conductors including Gil Rose, Joseph Silverstein, Victor Feldbrill, Eckehard Stier and Giordano Bellincampi. As a chamber musician, he has performed at the Banff, Orford, Domaine Forget, Tanglewood, Aspen, Music@Menlo, Prussia Cove and Akaroa festivals, and has appeared in concert with Midori and members of the Emerson String Quartet. Contemporary music has played a large role in Andrew’s musical life, and he has worked closely with some of the leading composers of our time on their solo and chamber works, including Pierre Boulez, Mario Davidovsky, György Kurtág and Steve Reich.

    Outside his busy performing schedule, Andrew teaches both privately and at the University of Auckland. He frequently serves as a judge for competitions and scholarship funds throughout New Zealand. Humanitarian and outreach concerts have also played an important role in his musical output, and through such endeavours he was awarded a U.S. Congressional Commendation in 2006.

    Born in Vancouver in 1982, Andrew’s principal teachers were Lawrie Hill, Gwen Thompson, Gerald Stanick, Ani Kavafian and Donald Weilerstein. He holds a BA magna cum laude from Stony Brook University and an MM and GD from the New England Conservatory of Music. He served as a performing and teaching fellow at Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School from 2007-2008, and from 2008-2013 held the position of assistant principal 2nd violin with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Andrew has proudly been concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra since 2014, and is an occasional guest concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

    Andrew performs on a J.B. Vuillaume violin from 1845, and a J.J. Martin bow from 1880.

    > Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Lara Hall
    University of Waikato, Concertmaster Opus Orchestra

    As a violinist, baroque violinist, viola player and passionate teacher, Dr Lara Hall shows rare versatility as a musician. She is currently lecturer in violin and viola at The University of Waikato, concertmaster of Opus Orchestra, a member of the New Zealand Chamber Soloists with whom she has performed in the UK, Europe, the US, South America, and Asia. Lara has found musical inspiration through chamber music since early teen collaborations with her peers and also her musician siblings Elroy, Callum and Amalia.

  • Stephen Larsen
    University of Auckland, Pettman National Junior Music Academy

    Since his student days in Christchurch he has had a fascination with violin pedagogy, something which he has studied intensively ever since.

    He maintains a busy teaching schedule, as well as teaching violin and viola at the University of Auckland he teaches students in both Christchurch and Auckland through the Pettman National Junior Academy of Music.

    His students have enjoyed success in numerous competitions on a national and international level and have gone on to work and study all over the world.

    He has regularly been invited to give lessons, masterclasses and talks on violin playing and teaching throughout New Zealand.

  • Martin Riseley
    NZ School of Music, Concertmaster Christchurch Symphony

    New Zealand violinist Martin Riseley studied at Juilliard with Dorothy DeLay, where he completed Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees. He subsequently became Concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for fifteen years, where he performed and premiered a large number of concertos. He has played chamber music with some of the leading musicians of our time, including Pinchas Zukerman, Yo Yo Ma and John Kimura Parker, and has held other concertmaster positions, including Interim Associate Concertmaster of the National Arts Center Orchestra, under music director Pinchas Zukerman.

    Since returning to New Zealand to be Head of Strings at the New Zealand School of Music he has premiered John Corigliano’s Red Violin Chaconne, given performances throughout the country of the complete Paganini caprices, and teamed up with Diedre Irons for regular recitals, including Chamber Music New Zealand. He has also made the first CD recordings of some important chamber works of Douglas Lilburn and ‘Meditations on Michelangelo’ by Jack Body on Naxos with the NZSO, which won the Vodafone Music Award for best classical CD in 2015. A premiere recording of violin works by David Farquhar was released on Rattle the same year. Since that year he has also been Concertmaster of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and has conducted the Edmonton Symphony, Manawatu Chamber Orchestra, Academy Strings of Alberta, and the NZSM Orchestra. His piano trio, the Te Koki Trio, with Jian Liu and Inbal Megiddo, has performed throughout New Zealand and in Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia.

  • Gary Leahy
    Bowmaker

    Having worked in a number of fields, award-winning bowmaker Gary Leahy trained in the repair and restoration of violins and bows with John Harte at Antonio Strings in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he lived for six years.
    While there, he became increasingly fascinated by bows.
    He returned to Ireland in 2002 and trained as a bowmaker with Noel Burke.
    He set up his own workshop in 2005 in Newport, Co. Mayo, and apart from a year spent working in Paris, has been based there since.

    His violin, viola and cello bows are very much inspired by French bowmaking of the early to mid 19th century.

    He has won numerous prizes, including gold medals for violin, viola, and cello bows at
    Violin Society of America competitions in 2010 and 2012, and Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris for viola bow at the Etienne Vatelot competition in 2011.


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