The Selection Panel will convene to meticulously select the 16 quarter-finalists, alternates and NZ Development Prize winner from the 2017 Competition applications.
The selection process is held in three rounds, with the identities of the applicants not revealed to the panel until the final round.
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Andrew Beer (Canada/New Zealand)
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.
Justine Cormack, New Zealand – Violin
A staunch advocate for the enormous creativity that exists within the arts community of New Zealand, Justine actively supports and promotes this creative wealth both here in NZ and internationally. From 2002 to mid-2017, as a founding member and violinist of NZTrio, she was instrumental in the commissioning and performing of close to 40 works from NZ composers, proudly showcasing these compositions within the trio’s diverse programmes on the world stage. NZTrio also struck up an inspiring relationship with NZ’s ‘avant-garde’ luxury fashion house WORLD, and Justine continues to collaborate with them, proudly wearing their bold, colourful and witty clothing.
An active recording artist, she regularly guests as Concertmaster, and is a sought after adjudicator for competitions and tertiary exams. Some recent highlights have been her involvement on the first four international judging panels of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, and the highly acclaimed release of a Douglas Lilburn Duos recording with pianist Michael Houstoun.
Justine’s notable orchestral career saw her appointed to NZSO Sub-Principal 1st-Violin in the 1990’s, followed by Concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia from 2000-2004, where she was regularly featured as soloist.
A graduate of the University of Canterbury, Justine has a Masters degree from San Francisco Conservatory and a Doctoral degree from Stony Brook in New York. She has taught violin at Wellington’s Victoria University and held a position as Violin Lecturer at The University of Auckland.
Justine feels fortunate to play an 1868 J.B.Vuillaume violin.
Vesa-Matti Leppänen (Finland/New Zealand)
Born and raised in Turku, Finland, Vesa-Matti Leppänen moved to New Zealand in 2000. He was appointed NZSO Concertmaster in 2004 and has earned international recognition for his musicianship as a chamber musician, teacher, jurist and soloist. He has performed as a soloist with all the major orchestras in New Zealand. Internationally, Leppänen has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia, China, Japan, Philippines and Scandinavia. In 2005, he led the NZSO on its European/Japanese Tour and again in 2010 including the Musikverein in Vienna and Lucerne Festival Hall. On both of those tours he was also featured as soloist. He has worked alongside internationally renowned soloists like Hilary Hahn, Pinchas Zukerman and Janine Jansen and he has also appeared as guest Concertmaster with orchestras including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. Leppänen teaches at the New Zealand School of Music, gives masterclasses and has coached the Asian Youth Orchestra and the NZSO National Youth Orchestra.
Helene Pohl (USA/New Zealand)
Helene Pohl is the first violinist of the New Zealand String Quartet, a full-time post that keeps her well out of other mischief, though she has performed solo recitals and concertos around New Zealand since moving here in 1994, and she is the devoted teacher of a small number of students at the New Zealand School of Music.
Born in Ithaca, New York to German parents, she spent her childhood on both sides of the Atlantic. She began violin at age 4 with the Suzuki method. A musical omnivore, she began piano study at 9 and as a teenager added viola, clarinet and baritone saxophone (the latter in order to join the jazz band). At 17 she began tertiary study at the Musikhochschule Cologne, where her teacher was Franzjosef Maier, founder of the Collegium Aureum, and her chamber music coaches were the members of the Amadeus Quartet. She continued her studies at the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor’s Degree and the coveted Performer’s Certificate. Her violin and chamber music teachers were the members of the Cleveland Quartet; she also studied voice with Renee Fleming. She received her Master’s Degree at Indiana University where she studied violin with Josef Gingold (student of Eugene Ysaye), viola with Kim Kashkashian, and chamber music with Fritz Magg, Abraham Skernick and Gyorgy Sebok.
With groups formed during her studies she spent many summers at the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival where she received coaching from members of the Cleveland, Emerson, Juilliard and Tokyo Quartets. Other violin teachers whose lessons she found inspirational along the way were James Buswell, Robert Mann and Joyce Robbins.
As first violinist of the San Francisco based Fidelio String Quartet (1988-1993), Helene Pohl performed in the USA, Germany, England, Italy and South America. The Fidelio Quartet was prizewinner in the 1991 London International String Quartet Competition and quartet in residence at both the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals.
Helene Pohl joined the New Zealand String Quartet as first violinist in February 1994. The NZSQ, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012, enjoys an extremely busy international career, with several yearly tours to North America and Europe and frequent visits to Australia and Asia as well as about 40 concerts each year in New Zealand alone. They also have an extensive discography on Atoll, Naxos and Rattle among others, with music by Beethoven, Mozart, Dvorak, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel, Berg, Wolf, Szekely, Tan Dun, Takemitsu, Chinary Ung, Zhou Long, the entire quartets of Bartok, Brahms and Mendelssohn and many New Zealand compositions. Their CD “Notes from a Journey” won the Classical section of the Tui Music Awards in 2011. Besides being in residence at the New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University, the Quartet also annually runs both the Adam Chamber Music Summer School and the Queens Birthday Chamber Music Weekend.
Since 2001 she has been Artistic Director, with fellow quartet member Gillian Ansell, of the Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music, held biennially in Nelson, which features NZ artists along with international visitors and has become an important part of the Australasian music scene.
In October 2016 she will perform the world premiere of the Louise Webster Concerto, which was written for her, with the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra.
In her spare time she is often seen on the tennis court, or practicing Tai Chi, or playing with her son Peter.
Dene Olding (Australia)
Dene Olding is recognised as one of Australia’s most outstanding violinists. He is currently first violinist for the Goldner String Quartet and the Australia Ensemble (resident at the University of New South Wales) and Concertmaster Emeritus of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
As a soloist he has worked with all of the Australian Symphony and Chamber Orchestras in a range of repertoire. He has performed over forty concertos and worked with some of the world’s leading conductors including Edo de Waart, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Stuart Challender, Sir Charles Mackerras, Jorge Mester, Gunther Herbig, Werner Andreas Albert, David Porcelijn and Vladimir Ashkenazy. He gave the Australian premiere performance of Lutoslawski’s Chain 2 with the composer conducting, Elliott Carter’s Violin Concerto and the Violin Concerto of Philip Glass. In addition, he has performed world premieres of violin concertos by Carl Vine, Ross Edwards , Bozidar Kos and the Double Concerto for violin and viola by Richard Mills, written for himself and his wife, Irina Morozova.
Dene has also held the position of Leader and Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and is often sought after to lead/direct concerts with many other orchestras. He has also been the Artistic Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival at the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Festival Chamber Music Concert Program. He appears regularly at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and at many festivals in Australasia and Europe. In 2010 he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival as soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Dene attended the Juilliard School In New York from the age of fourteen as a scholarship student of Ivan Galamian and Margaret Pardee. He graduated in 1978 with the Master of Music Degree and was awarded the Morris Loeb Prize. Other studies included master classes with Nathan Milstein and further lessons with Herman Krebbers and Gyorgy Pauk. In 1985, he was awarded the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship to further his musical studies and during that year, became a Laureate of the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Violin Competition.
Solo recordings include a sonata disc of Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart for ABC Classics with his father, Max Olding, the CD premiere of concertos by Frank Martin and Milhaud and concertos by Samuel Barber and Ross Edwards (Maninyas) – winner of the 1994 A.R.I.A. award for “Best Classical Recording” and the prestigious Cannes award. He has also recorded the Hindemith violin concerti with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under Werner Andreas Albert for CPO. His numerous chamber music CD’s have also received acclaim. Recently, the recording of chamber music of Edward Elgar with the Goldner Quartet and pianist Piers Lane for the Hyperion label was selected as Gramophone magazine’s “Record of the Month” and spent time on the “Classical top 10” in the UK. His recording of the complete Beethoven string quartets with the Goldner quartet for ABC Classics was chosen Classical album of the year by Limelight magazine and a recording of rare Rachmaninov violin works with pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy also received praise from The Strad magazine.
In 2011, he gave the premiere performance of the Carl Vine violin concerto with the Australian Youth Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.
As a member of the Goldner String Quartet and the Australia Ensemble, he regularly tours to Europe, Asia and New Zealand. He has been awarded the Centenary Medal of Australia and has received numerous awards and accolades for his performances in all spheres of music-making. Dene is passionate about the future of classical music and sees his role as Artistic Adviser and frequent jury member for the Michael Hill International Violin Competition as making an important contribution to that end. He also directs the annual Music in the Hunter Festival, a chamber music event that takes place in the Hunter Valley wine-making country near Sydney and manages to combine a passion for Aikido and sailing with his busy musical career and spending time with his wife, Irina and son, Nikolai.
Dene Olding plays a fine Joseph Guarnerius made in Cremona in 1720.