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Queenstown Hosts Prestigious Violin Competition

The prestigious Michael Hill International Violin Competition will host the 2019 quarter-finals in Queenstown from May 31 until June 3 and organisers are excited about the high calibre of violinists selected to contest this year’s event.

The competition was launched in 2001 by Queenstown resident, Sir Michael Hill, whose ambition as a young man was to be a concert violinist, but instead he entered the family jewellery business which is today a household name.

Sir Michael wanted to offer young violinists across the world the chance to achieve what he hadn’t been able to –  to pursue a successful career in violin performance. Today the biennial competition is recognised as one of the most significant international violin prizes, worth in excess of $100,000.

Competition executive director, Anne Rodda says 16 violinists aged between 18 and 28-years-old representing Australia, China, Germany, Latvia, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan and USA have been selected to compete in Queenstown at the quarter-finals, featuring solo and accompanied works.

“From there six semi-finalists will go to Auckland for the third round of the competition on June 5 and June 6. Leading New Zealand musicians, drawn from the country’s top ensembles will perform Mozart Quintets with the competitors.”

On Saturday June 8 the three finalists will perform, accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by music director, Giordano Bellincampi.

The 2019 winner receives NZ$40,000, a recording contract with the Atoll label and an intensive performance tour across New Zealand and Australia.

“The winner is also invited to perform, during the winner’s tour, on Sir Michael Hill’s magnificent personal violin – a 1755 Guadagnini called the Southern Star,” says Anne. “This is an exceptional opportunity.”

The Best of the Best

The Michael Hill International Violin Competition has established the careers of some of the world’s most renowned violinists but it is also acclaimed for its superstar judging panels.

“Each competition, Queenstown and Auckland play host to some of the world’s greatest violin soloists and teachers which this year includes in the line-up Dale Barltrop, who competed in the first Michael Hill as an 18-year-old, and today is concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony and First Violin of the Australian String Quartet,” says competition executive director, Anne Rodda.

Other celebrated names include Canadian soloist James Ehnes who has achieved rock star status in the classical world, renowned pedagogue Mauricio Fuks from Uraguay/USA and Clara-Jumi Kang of Germany/South Korea who has a reputation as a brilliant soloist.

Popular UK violinist, Anthony Marwood and well-known New Zealand violinist, Wilma Smith together with Ning Feng from China, who won the 2005 Michael Hill complete the 2019 panel, with Dr Robin Congreve appointed as the chair of the jury.

The competition is open to the public and Anne says it also provides opportunities for violinists in the Southern Lakes to learn from and work with the visiting artists.

“There are workshops, masterclasses, rehearsals and Insider Talkswith industry professionals which is a rare chance for local musicians to learn from some of the best in the world.”