2017 Competition Application Deadline – 16 Nov 5pm NZT

Announcing the 2017 Competitors

 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, or view the Competition’s Facebook page or Youtube channel.
The Michael Hill acknowledges and thanks all of the applicants and their referees.

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
Copyright © 2016 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, All rights reserved.

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