Arrival in Queenstown


Sixteen of the world’s most exciting young violinists touched down in Queenstown yesterday to start the final phase of their preparation, before the competition begins on Friday.

Bows are being tightened, dustings of rosin applied, strings tuned and the pressure is mounting. Don’t miss the excitement!

Queenstown 2-5 June Quarter-finals (solo and piano-accompanied works)

Auckland 7-10 June Semi-finals (Mozart String Quintets) and Finals (Concertos)

If you haven’t got your tickets yet, there’s still time - book now on


Some of the competitors were welcomed at the Queenstown Airport by a group of adorable Suzuki violin students. We thank them for their passionate playing!

Suzuki violin pupils and Sir Michael Hill met competitors at the Queenstown Airport yesterday. 
Photo by Sheena Haywood


View from the Piano Stool

“You get to witness creative dialogue,” says competition pianist Sarah Watkins, about her role accompanying the violinists in Queenstown.

“You’ll have rehearsed something with a violinist and come to an agreement about how things are phrased and what kind of shapes you’re wanting to make, but what I really love in performance the sense of added spontaneity on top of that,” she says.

When talking about the challenges of rehearsing with a large number of violinists over a short space of time, Watkins says there’s still plenty of time to get to know the style of each performer.

“You have to be very concise in rehearsals, but let the music do the talking first and then talk about the details that weren’t quite right. Every competitor is different and that is one of the challenges and also one of the things that’s so wonderful about the Competition.”

Watkins has been one of the Competition pianists since the beginning. “It’s such a thrill playing with such incredible young violinists. I love what the Michael Hill stands for. It’s the highest level of competition but there’s this wonderful environment of support built into it…. what you end up with is some incredibly artistic music-making in a very short space of time,” she says.

Keep up with the play

If you can’t be with us in person, all sessions will be livestreamed right from our website and you can keep up with the latest through our blog, which will run for the duration of the competition.

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite competitor! Whether you’re joining us in person or online, you can vote once a day, either by txt-message (NZ mobiles only) or through our website’s online voting form.

Voting opens at 3pm on Friday 2 June and closes at 10pm on Saturday 10 June, with the winner of the audience prize announced during the prize giving immediately following the Grand Finale.

To vote online, go to the online voting booth on to select your favourite competitor.

To vote by txt-message, txt the unique code for your favourite competitor to 3323. (Codes can be found in the Competition programme book pages 28-33 or on  Txt voting is available within NZ only on any NZ mobile network.  Standard txt costs apply.

Repertoire Teaser - Violin sonata

The Romantic sonatas in Round 2 (Queenstown) will carry you away on soaring melodies and luscious textures, drawing you in with the quicksilver communication between violin and piano. Composed in an era that celebrated the interpretation of the individual, these multi-movement works test the competitors’ ability to present a compelling musical narrative across multiple movements, in their own interpretative voice.

Introducing... Olga Šroubková 

We’re excited that Olga Šroubková will be competing in New Zealand - listed as the first alternate until now, she’s been called up due to illness of one of our quarter-finalists. Olga is jetting to New Zealand off the back of her recent first prize win at the Prague Spring International Competition. Haere Mai Olga!

What else is on?
Ilya Gringolts, renowned soloist and one of this year’s competition judges plays the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra on 1 June, as well as giving masterclasses in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland.

Peek at the Prizes

Part of the staggering first prize package is a unique gown designed by Kiri Nathan, if the winner is female (A tailored suit from Working Style is on offer if the winner is male). Kiri tells us about creating a dress for a violinist:

“I believe it is paramount that she feel empowered and inspired by what she is wearing,” says Nathan.

“Practical considerations like range of movement are also important. Violinists need the freedom to move, and regular gowns and necklines can often constrict that movement,” she says.

The kaupapa (values and principles) of the Kiri Nathan label involve “a raw and truthful expression, fashion from a natural and cultural perspective,” and this was reflected in Kiri’s design for Suyeon Kang, winner of the 2015 competition. The bodice of Suyeon’s gown was handwoven from prepared strips of forest green silk, drawing on generations of cultural heritage.

“Suyeon is a beautiful and talented woman, she has a quiet, but inimitable strength in her and I wanted her to feel those attributes had been considered in the creation of her gown,” says Nathan.

“The world is a better place with inspirational music and creativity, so I feel very privileged to be able to fructify within the Michael Hill International Violin Competition space, filled with so many incredibly gifted people.”

Copyright © 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, All rights reserved.

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