How It All Works

2011 Semi-finalists from left to right:  Xian “Angelo” Yu, Eric Silberger, Richard Lin, Stefani Collins, Nadir Khashimov, Sergey Malov (Simon Darby photographer)
2011 Semi-finalists from left to right: Xian “Angelo” Yu, Eric Silberger, Richard Lin, Stefani Collins, Nadir Khashimov, Sergey Malov (Simon Darby photographer)

The 16 quarter-finalists selected to compete in the ninth biennial Michael Hill International Violin Competition were determined by the Selection Panel through a rigorous audition process in December. 140 applications were received from violinists representing 32 different nationalities. They are being flown to New Zealand to compete in front of an esteemed International Jury and live audiences.

Nikki Chooi, 2013 winner, (Simon Darby photographer)
Nikki Chooi, 2013 winner, (Simon Darby photographer)

Rounds I and II of the prestigious competition take place in Queenstown from 2 to 5 June amidst the breathtaking surroundings of the southern alps where audience members enjoy the flexibility of a pass so they can come and go (or get fully stuck in!). “The Remarkables” are what these violinists should be called as they tackle exquisite Bach solo works, fiendishly difficult Paganini caprices and show pieces, a brand-new commission by New Zealand composer Karlo Margetic, soaring sonatas, the sheer poeticism of charming salon pieces, and new for 2017, a fantastic myriad works of their own choosing. Collaborating pianists Sarah Watkins and Jian Liu and a full list of the repertoire is available here.

Photo credit: Simon Darby, 2013.
Photo credit: Simon Darby, 2013.

From there, six semi-finalists are advanced to Round III and the entire Competition heads north to Auckland where the violinists no longer competing receive an array of Professional Development opportunities – most of which are open to the public. Impeccable artistry and leadership skills are on display in the Concert Chamber of the Auckland Town Hall 7 and 8 June when, on just 90 minutes’ rehearsal, the six semi-finalists lead some of New Zealand’s eminent chamber musicians (Justine Cormack, Gillian Ansell, Julia Joyce and Ashley Brown) in Mozart’s sublime String Quintets.

Natalie Lin, 2013 Michael Hill Audience Prize winner (Simon Darby photographer)
Natalie Lin, 2013 Michael Hill Audience Prize winner (Simon Darby photographer)

The finalists are determined and the pressure mounts again for the thrilling Grand Finale, in which the top three violinists perform concerti in Auckland’s Town Hall with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra on Saturday 10 June. Prize winners are announced straight afterwards (including the Audience Prize, so be prepared to cast your vote!) Packages for all the Auckland performances can be purchased through the APO.

The Prize package is valued over NZ$100,000 and the coveted first prize includes:
$40,000, a recording contract on the Atoll label, a Winner’s Tour in 2018 presented in partnership with Chamber Music NZ, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Musica Viva Australia, a personalize professional development programme, a custom-designed suit or gown by Working Style or Kiri Natha and use of Sir Michael Hill’s personal violin, Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (1755), named The Southern Star to perform on the Winner’s Tour.

The Competition also awards a NZ Development Prize which, in 2017, was awarded to Alexandra Lomeiko, originally from Christchurch.