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 and empower them with the necessary skills to broaden their career opportunities.

We take pride in New Zealand Aotearoa’s cultural offerings and showcase our finest artistic talents. Hosting a major event and inviting the world’s celebrated violinists, we are raising the awareness of fine music and the standards of musical performance that richly impacts the next layer of talent in New Zealand.

Founded in 2000, the biennial “Michael Hill” is recognised as one of the world’s most compelling violin competitions. The fusion of spine-tingling performances, warm and enthusiastic audiences, breathtaking scenery and Kiwi hospitality create an unparalleled platform for competitor and audience member alike. We take great pride in the knowledge that our laureates hold prestigious positions in a variety of career options and carry on the glorious tradition of violin playing in its highest form.

In its relatively short history, the Michael Hill has achieved iconic status as a high-calibre premium music event – it consistently delivers a nail-biting and jaw dropping audience experience, attracting biennial live audiences of 7000, and its online performance views exceed 250,000 (including 27,500 through live streaming).

For its stakeholders and its New Zealand community, the Michael Hill delivers on its promises:

  •   A world-class event in their backyard
  •   The chance to be a part of the thrill of competition
  • •  A welcoming personality and genuine audience engagement
  • •  A sense of pride – a platform to celebrate being Kiwi

The competitors (ages 18-28) hail from every corner of the world; nearly 140 applications were received from 30 countries for the 2017 edition. Because the Competition provides travel and accommodation for the semi-finalists, it attracts a very large number of applicants, thus ensuring rigorous competition and an excellent caliber of competitor (not just those with means to travel to New Zealand). The competitors are billeted with generous families in both Queenstown and Auckland providing a human contact, a local support base and a connection with the community.

All of the competitors are revered and receive professional development and genuine wrap around care during their time in New Zealand- they each leave a stronger and more insightful artist through their competition experience. The Competition maintains enthusiastic support and applauds of all its laureates over the years as it tracks and promotes the careers of, now, 150 competitors and prize winners.

Past winners have gone on to achieve remarkable success:

  • 2001, Joseph Lin (Taiwan/USA)
    First Violin, Juilliard String Quartet
  • 2003, Natalia Lomeiko (Russia/NZ)
    Professor, Royal College of Music
  • 2005, Feng Ning (China)
    Solo performance career with over 60 concerts per year
  • 2007, Bella Hristova (Bulgaria)
    Solo performance career, Young Concert Artist
  • 2009, Josef Špaček (Czech Republic)
    Concertmaster, Czech Philharmonic
  • 2011, Sergey Malov (Russia)
    First Violinist Atrium String Quartet, Extensive performing artist, violin, viola, violoncello spalla
  • 2013, Nikki Chooi (Canada)
    Concertmaster, New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
  • 2015, Suyeon Kang (Australia)
    Violinist Boccherini Trio

The Winner’s Tour takes place in partnership with Chamber Music New Zealand, Musica Viva Australia and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra every second year and provides the previous year’s winner with a substantial concert tour through New Zealand and Australia. (It also affords Antipodeans across both countries the opportunity to hear the winner in their own hometown.)

Educational Initiatives and Professional Development are offered throughout New Zealand to ensure the next generation of Kiwis are afforded opportunities and inspiration. Masterclasses and further professional development opportunities are provided by the artist-judges for tertiary students and casual Classroom Conversations are held in secondary schools across the country.

The Competition’s prestige is such that it has as its Patrons, Helen Clark, the Administrator of the United National Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Sir James Wallace (KNZM). Sir Michael was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) in 2010 for services to business and the arts.

“It’s simply world – class”

Hon Chris Finlayson
Former Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage