Suyeon’s Reflections About Her Tour

028_Suyeon Kang_photo Simon Darby

As the Michael Hill Winner’s Tour drew closer, I was wondering if I’d done my usual ‘biting off more than one can chew’, because the program I’d naively chosen for the upcoming month was proving to be a more of a challenge than I had expected.

But this is the typical story of the life of an aspiring musician or any aspiring performing artist – we are always out of time, and never as prepared as we would like to be. There will always be things that could just be a bit better, but the show must go on no matter what! When the curtain goes up one has to deliver: and this is precisely what the competition prize package offers. What an honour and a blessing to have been able to receive this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, thanks to the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Chamber Music New Zealand, Musica Viva Australia, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and countless others involved. It was the perfect test of endurance, improvement and concentration- precisely what one needs to learn in the profession, and there could have been no better setting to do this in.

Photo credit: Jodie Rainsford
Photo credit: Jodie Rainsford

The prize package also goes on to include professional development training with Andrea Duncan, who worked a couple of wonders in just two sessions and unlocked some parts of my mind which were previously covered with a respectable amount of dust; a beautiful dress designed by Kiri Nathan which I am honoured to own, and of course the opportunity to play Sir Michael’s splendid Guadagnini violin!

It was a great pleasure and a privilege to be able to tour NZ and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia with Stephen de Pledge on piano – an absolute gem and a great person to be around: I realised I gave him a rather difficult job regarding repertoire selection (we will both remember the Bartok Sonata with great affection) but he artfully pulled everything off with ease, finesse and a great sense of humour.

We flew or drove around (or rather, he drove and I promptly fell asleep after fifteen minutes of admiring the scenery and sheep-speckled hills) for three and a half weeks with 14 concerts, and also had the chance to hear many of NZ’s finest young chamber musicians performing as part of the Chamber Music Contest. What a brilliant initiative and what a pleasure to find out that so many are learning the art of chamber music at such a young age.

Suyeon visiting with the APO’s Young Patrons
Suyeon visiting with the APO’s Young Patrons

The Beethoven Concerto with the APO which followed the recital tour was the thing I was biting my fingernails about for a while as I had never performed it before. To be able to play this gargantuan piece twice with this wonderful orchestra under Maestro Bellincampi was absolutely thrilling and will remain one of the highlights of the tour.

To cap it all off Stephen and I were joined by Atoll Label producer Wayne Laird and we battled through the last three days recording works by Bloch and Bartok. We had a capital time despite occasional exhaustion.

recording 2016

And one other thing which made this tour so very rewarding was the incorporation of five wonderful outreach programs which were arranged courtesy of CMNZ. To be able to bring more music to those who have difficulties accessing it is something we could all do more often and the enthusiasm, kindness, curiosity and in some cases, great talent, that I witnessed during these sessions, is something I will keep with me for a long time.

I leave New Zealand with so many great memories, not only of music and concerts but of all the people I met along the way: Mr. D’s syringe doughnuts in Napier (I assume everyone knows what these are!), too many servings of Eggs Benedict, the wonderful audiences, and the beautiful scenery and atmosphere of this special country. Special thanks go to my wonderful hosts in Auckland (Trish and Barry Clapham) and Margot Hutchinson (Queenstown) who I got to see again and were so very generous yet again this year…

For the next winner in 2017- the tour in 2018 is definitely something to look forward to!! I would do the whole thing again if I could- and I am already feeling empty though only one day has passed since it all finished!


  • The Michael Hill International Violin Competition 2016 Winner’s Tour is made possible through the exceptional collegiality with partners Chamber Music New Zealand, Music Viva Australia and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

    logo_sponsors_chamber_music_new_zealand_trans             logo_sponsors_auckland_philharmonia_orchestra


    In addition to the generosity shown by our sponsors, we wish to thank the following companies for their support of the 2016 Winner’s Tour:

    logo_sponsors_wellington_airport          logo_sponsors_party_plus


    Attire for Suyeon Kang provided by Kiri Nathan, Queenstown hospitality equipment provided by Party Plus.

2017 Competition Online Voting Booth