Media Releases

For more information, transmission of high resolution images and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Siobhan Waterhouse   |   Publicist   |   Michael Hill International Violin Competition
+64 22 126 4149   |   
siobhan@mrfahrenheitpr.co.nz

2017 COMPETITION

Click on the headline for full media release information.

  • For immediate release

    COUNTDOWN IS ON FOR 2017 MICHAEL HILL INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN COMPETITION
    16 of the world’s best young violinists preparing for intense competition in Queenstown and Auckland, in June

    The 16 quarter-finalists selected to compete in the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition are feverishly preparing for their trip to New Zealand for the ninth biennial competition in June.

    Rounds One and Two of the prestigious competition take place in Queenstown from 2 to 5 June. From there, six semi-finalists are selected to head up to Auckland for Round Three, which takes place on 7 and 8 June.

    The thrilling final event, in which the top three violinists perform concerti in Auckland’s Town Hall with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO), takes place on Saturday 10 June.

    This year’s line-up includes Wellington-born Benjamin Baker who is one of country’s most exciting young classical musicians. He was recently awarded a first prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.

    Baker will be joined in the Queenstown quarter-finals by a group of returning Michael Hill competitors – Ioana Cristina Goicea (Romania), Luke Hsu (USA), Jung Min Choi (South Korea), Natsumi Tsuboi (Japan) and Mari Lee (South Korea / Japan).

    Competing for the first time are Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaia (Russia / USA), So Young Choi (South Korea), Asako Fukuda (Japan), Jaeook Lee (Korea), Kunwha Lee (South Korea), Yoo Min Seo (South Korea), Sumina Studer (Switzerland), Momo Wong (Japan / USA) and Galiya Zharova (Kazakhstan).

    The 16 performers are currently practicing anywhere from 4 to 13 hours a day, depending on their engagements, classes, recordings and performances. On top of their violin schedules, many also undertake physical and mindfulness training, including karate and yoga.

    The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is New Zealand’s most prestigious music competition and one of the finest violin competitions in the world. Every two years it brings to New Zealand some of the world’s celebrated classical musicians to judge the very best young violinists (aged 18-28 years).

    The Michael Hill has been a platform for some of the world’s most successful contemporary violinists, teachers, concertmasters and ensemble players in the world. This includes the recently appointed Concertmaster for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Nikki Chooi, who won the 2013 competition.

    The winner of the Michael Hill receives NZ$40,000, a recording contract with the Atoll label, an intensive performance tour across New Zealand and Australia, and a personalised professional development programme. The winner is also invited to perform on Sir Michael Hill’s magnificent personal violin, a 1755 Guadagnini named “The Southern Star”, on their Winner’s Tour.

    Alongside the thrill of the Competition, which is open to the public in both Queenstown and Auckland, the Michael Hill also provides development opportunities for local violinists to learn from and work with the visiting artists. This includes workshops, masterclasses, rehearsals and ‘Insider Talks’ with industry professionals.

    The event attracts live audiences of more than 7000 and its online performance views exceed 250,000 (including 26,000 live streaming).

    All live rounds are open to the public. Tickets are now on sale through Eventfinda and Ticketmaster.

    For more information, please visit www.violincompetition.co.nz, or view the Competition’s Facebook page or Youtube channel.

    ENDS

    2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition Quarter-finalists (alphabetical)

    Benjamin Baker (Male) – New Zealand
    Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaia (Female) – Russia / USA
    Jung Min Choi (Female) – South Korea
    So Young Choi (Female) – South Korea
    Asako Fukuda (Female) – Japan
    Ioana Goicea (Female) – Romania
    Luke Hsu (Male) – USA
    Hye-Jin Kim (Female) – South Korea
    Mari Lee (Female) – South Korea / Japan
    Jaeook Lee (Male) – South Korea
    Kunwha Lee (Female) – South Korea
    Yoo Min Seo (Female) – South Korea
    Sumina Studer (Female) – Switzerland
    Natsumi Tsuboi (Female) – Japan
    Momo Wong (Female) – Japan / USA
    Galiya Zharova (Female) – Kazakhstan

    For media information, images and interviews, please contact Siobhan Waterhouse on +64 22 126 4149 or siobhan@mrfahrenheit.nz

  • Strictly embargoed until 10am Saturday 10 December, 2016

    COMPETITORS ANNOUNCED IN 2017 MICHAEL HILL INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN COMPETITION
    New Zealand violinist included in the impressive international line-up

    From 140 applications from young violinists representing 32 different nationalities, the 16 quarter-finalists have been selected to compete in the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, which takes place in Queenstown and Auckland in June next year.

    The Michael Hill International Violin Competition (“Michael Hill”) is New Zealand’s most prestigious music competition and recognised as one of the finest violin competitions in the world. Every two years it brings to New Zealand some of the world’s celebrated classical musicians to judge the very best young violinists (aged 18-28 years). Alongside the thrill of the Competition, which is open to the public in both Queenstown and Auckland, the Michael Hill also provides development opportunities for local violinists to learn from and work with the visiting artists.

    The Michael Hill has been a platform for some of the world’s most successful contemporary violinists, teachers, concertmasters and ensemble players in the world. This includes the newly-appointed Concertmaster for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Nikki Chooi, who won the 2013 competition.

    This year’s quarter-finalist list includes Wellington-born Benjamin Baker who is one of country’s most exciting young classical musicians. Last month he was not only awarded a first prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York, he was also engaged by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra as a last minute replacement to perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. In 2014, Baker performed as an on-stage soloist for the Royal New Zealand Ballet season of Allegro: Five Short Ballets and he was the 2013 Michael Hill New Zealand Development prize winner.

    Baker will be joined in the Queenstown quarter-finals by a group of returning Michael Hill competitors – Maia Cabeza (Canada / USA), Ioana Goicea (Romania), Luke Hsu (USA), Jung Min Choi (South Korea), Natsumi Tsuboi (Japan) and Mari Lee (South Korea / Japan).

    New competitors are Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaia (Russia / USA), So Young Choi (South Korea), Jaeook Lee (Korea), Kunwha Lee (South Korea), Zeyu Victor Li (China), Thomas Reif (Germany), Yoo Min Seo (South Korea), Momoko Wong (Japan / USA) and Galiya Zharova (Kazakhstan).

    The winner of the Michael Hill receives NZ$40,000, a recording contract with the Atoll label, an intensive performance tour across New Zealand and Australia, and a personalised professional development programme. The winner is also be invited to perform on Sir Michael Hill’s magnificent personal violin, a 1755 Guadagnini named “The Southern Star”, on their Winner’s Tour.

    Awarded every competition is a Development Prize for a stand-out young New Zealand artist. The prize is an intensive development opportunity in which the winner accompanies the 16 quarter-finalists to Queenstown and Auckland and participates in all professional development opportunities offered by the Competiton. In 2017, the New Zealand Development Prize winner is Alexandra Lomeiko, originally from Christchurch. Alexandra is the younger sister of 2003 Competition winner, Natalia Lomeiko.

    The development opportunities offered by the Michael Hill to competitors include workshops, masterclasses and ‘Insider Talks’ with industry professionals. For local violinists and students they include in-class development opportunities, workshops, masterclasses and a chance to attend event rehearsals.

    Competition Founding Trustee, Sir Michael Hill, sat in on the grueling four-day selection round held last week in Auckland. He says, “The sheer excellence exhibited by all of the applicants was truly amazing. I thought I might have gone off my favourite composer, Bach, after hearing 140 performances, but the artistry they brought to their interpretation made it all so inspiring and enjoyable. My full respect and appreciation goes to the panel for the immense focus and integrity they brought to the process.”

    Competition Executive Director, Anne Rodda said, “The changes we introduced to the selection round were reaffirming. The inclusion of a Mozart concerto was really telling, and although the first two rounds were audio-only, by the third round the panel got to see the videos of those applicants they had advanced, and this added a very helpful dimension. The Michael Hill seeks artists that possess the full package necessary to stand out in a crowded market and sustain a meaningful career.”

    The International Jury are a prestigious group of world heavy weights in violin. In 2017 the jury members who will travel to both Queenstown and Auckland comprises USA’s Pamela Frank, Ilya Gringolts from Russia/UK, South Korea’s Dong-Suk Kang, Finland/NZ’s Vesa-Matti Leppänen, Romania’s Silvia Marvovici, Dene Olding from Australia and Krzysztof Wegrzyn of Poland/Germany.

    Regarding the competition format, Round One and Round Two – in which the competitors perform solo and piano-accompanied works – will take place in Queenstown from 2 to 5 June next year. From there, six semi-finalists are selected to head up to Auckland for Round Three, Mozart String Quintets, which takes place on 7 and 8 June. The thrilling final event in which the top three violinists perform concerti will fill Auckland’s Town Hall on Saturday 10 June.

    The collaborating artists in 2017 are Gillian Ansell and Julia Joyce on Viola, Ashley Brown on Cello, Justine Cormack on Violin, Jian Liu and Sarah Watkins on Piano, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Giordano Bellincampi.

    A group of leading violinists made up the initial selection panel for the Competition. It comprised Andrew Beer (Concertmaster, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra), Justine Cormack (NZTrio), Vesa-Matti Leppänen (Concertmaster, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra), Dene Olding (Concertmaster, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and first violinist Goldner String Quartet and the Australia Ensemble) and Helene Pohl (NZ String Quartet, NZ School of Music).

    Since inception in 2000, the Competition has become one of the world’s premium music events for young musicians. It attracts live audiences of more than 7000 and its online performance views exceed 250,000 (including 26,000 live streaming).

    All live rounds are open to the public – tickets will be on sale early 2017.

    For more information, please visit www.violincompetition.co.nz, or view the Competition’s Facebook page or Youtube channel.

    ENDS

    2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition Quarter-finalists (alphabetical)

    Benjamin Baker (Male) – New Zealand
    Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaia (Female) – Russia / USA
    Maia Cabeza (Female) – Canada / USA
    Jung Min Choi (Female) – South Korea
    So Young Choi (Female) – South Korea
    Ioana Goicea (Female) – Romania
    Luke Hsu (Male) – USA
    Mari Lee (Female) – South Korea / Japan
    Jaeook Lee (Male) – South Korea
    Kunwha Lee (Female) – South Korea
    Zeyu Victor Li (Male) – China
    Thomas Reif (Male) – Germany
    Yoo Min Seo (Female) – South Korea
    Natsumi Tsuboi (Female) – Japan
    Momoko Wong (Female) – Japan / USA
    Galiya Zharova (Female) – Kazakhstan

    For media information, images and interviews, please contact Siobhan Waterhouse on +64 22 126 4149 or siobhan@mrfahrenheit.nz

  • As the winner of the 2015 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Australian Suyeon Kang, makes her mark across New Zealand and Australia on her Winner’s Tour, the details for the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition have been announced.

    Queenstown will again play host for the first two rounds of the globally recognised competition for violinists aged 18-28, on 2-5 June 2017. From the 16 competitors, six will advance to Round III in Auckland on 7-8 June, before three finalists are then invited to perform in the highly anticipated grand final at Auckland’s Town Hall on Saturday 10 June.

    The esteemed international jury for the 2017 event has also been confirmed. It comprises Pamela Frank (USA), Ilya Gringolts (Russia, UK), Dong-Suk Kang (South Korea), Vesa-Matti Leppanen (Finland/NZ), Silvia Marcovici (Romania), Dene Olding (Australia) and Krzysztof Wegzhen (Poland/Germany). The 2017 Chair of Jury is Dr Robin Congreve (NZ).

    Working with and alongside the performers will be the 2017 collaborating artists, all representing New Zealand’s leading ensembles. The Queenstown pianists will again be Diedre Irons and Sarah Watkins. Round III (now Mozart String Quintets) will feature Justine Cormack on violin and Ashley Brown on cello, plus violists Gillian Ansell and Julia Joyce. The Final Round will be concertos with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by their Music Director Giordano Bellincampi. The original New Zealand work, a set piece in the quarter-finals, is this year composed by Karlo Margetic.

    The 2017 Competition’s selection panel is again a team of leading New Zealand violinists who represent a number of significant ensembles. They include Justine Cormack (NZTrio), Vesa-Matti Leppanen (NZSO concertmaster), Helene Pohl (NZ String Quartet) and Andrew Beer (APO Concertmaster). They are joined by the Competition’s Artistic Adviser, Dene Olding (Sydney Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and first violin of the Goldner String Quartet).

    The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is New Zealand’s most prestigious music competition and is recognised as one of the finest violin competitions in the world.

    The winner receives $40,000, a recording contract, an intensive performance tour across New Zealand, and a personalised professional development programme. The winner is also invited to perform on Sir Michael Hill’s personal violin, a 1755 Guadagnini named “The Southern Star”, on their Winner’s Tour.

    Of winning the 2015 Competition, Australian violinist Suyeon Kang says, “Winning the Michael Hill is a real honour. It has been an amazing opportunity to explore this beautiful country, to work with incredible artists like the APO and Stephen de Pledge, as well as other great people like dress designer Kiri Nathan and Competition Executive Director Anne Rodda.

    “As musicians we are constantly looking for performance opportunities and to get around 17 concerts in a one month tour is a real luxury. All of this put together has been a real eye opener and certainly helped boost my confidence. Luckily for me it meant also being able spend more time at home in Australia!”

    According to Competition Executive Director, Anne Rodda, characterising what makes a Michael Hill winner has been something the board has been working on extensively since last year, in order to ensure the Competition is doing the very best job it can in creating opportunities for participants and helping to launch successful careers for its winners.

    “We believe, win or not, the value of taking part in a competition like the Michel Hill is unparalleled. The intensity of a competition of course requires the violinists to put in a serious amount of work, but they also need to become a ‘whole performer’ to succeed in this competition. This means, as well as bringing their very best artistry and prowess to New Zealand, they need to ensure they have what it takes to shine in a crowded market.

    “Young artists these days have many career options and platforms available, as evidenced by the varied career paths of our past winners which reads as a who’s-who of professional violinists across the world. We honour and support whichever direction their career takes them in.”

    Rodda says there are some changes to the 2017 Competition, all of which have been artistically-driven.

    “In 2017 there will be 16 instead of 18 competitors. This is designed to make room for full length programmes and complete works in Rounds I and II (as well as more expansive rehearsal time with their pianists). We intend for the competitors to perform, not ‘audition’ once they get to New Zealand. The Queenstown Rounds have been extended to four days to give some much needed ‘breathing space’ around the individual performances.”

    “There will be a new repertoire category in Queenstown, Ad Libitum (‘at one’s pleasure’), which is basically the competitor’s choice and we will require the performer ntroduces their chosen work, themselves, from stage. This ought to give the judges some insight into what the competitors have besides extraordinary technique.

    Another change for 2017 will be seen in the initial selection process – an additional heat has become necessary in order to adequately review an increasing number of applications (the 2015 competition received a record 158 entries) and, whereas until now the identity of the initial applicants has been kept secret from the selection panel, their identities and accomplishments will be revealed for the final heat of the selection process.

    Rodda says, “Recordings will always be the best tool our industry has for auditions, but we have come to the view that the Michael Hill is more about the whole artist and not just the ability and resources to create an impeccable audition tape.

    “The Michael Hill International Violin Competition aims to recognise and celebrate excellence, distinctiveness and musical artistry. We encourage talented young violinists from all over the world who are on the verge of launching themselves on the world stage to audition. We hope the experience will empower them with the necessary skills to broaden their career opportunities.

    “We take pride in New Zealand Aotearoa’s cultural offerings and artistic talents. By hosting this major event and inviting the world’s celebrated young violinists to our beautiful country, we are raising awareness of fine music and global standards of musical performance in order to richly impact the next generation of talent in New Zealand.”

    Applications for the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition open on 1 September and close at 5pm NSZT on 16 November.