2014 NZ performances abound

Nikki, Ben, Bella, Natalia, and Feng. 
Familiar names  - all  past winners of the Competition, and all returning to New Zealand this year in a variety of performance settings ranging from concertos to recitals - even ballet!

2013 Winner, Nikki Chooi

Canadian violinist and recent first place winner, Nikki Chooi, returns to our fair shores this June for his Winners Tour, presented in partnership with Chamber Music New Zealand.

Nikki will be joined by New Zealand-native - now international pianist, Stephen De Pledge, for three exciting programmes of absolute fireworks, from Ravel’s gypsy Tzigane and the De Falla Suite Espagnole, to the virtuoso Ysaÿe and profound Prokofiev No 1. Jack Body’s Caravan had critics raving for its evocative depiction of the Silk Road: and trios follow with cellist Ashley Brown, including Smetana’s Bohemian masterpiece, his piano trio of 1855.

This tour kicks off with the Bruch violin concerto with the APO on 5 June and concludes 29 June in Queenstown, taking in 14 Centres throughout New Zealand along the way.

Programme details and ticket information can be found on

Ben Baker, 2013 NZ Development Prize Winer

  Wellington-born, London-based, Ben was a delightful "rediscovery" last year when he won the NZ Development Prize and returned to New Zealand to participate in the 2013 Competition activities. 

When the Royal NZ Ballet approached us about a male virtuoso violinist to perform onstage for their Allegro tour in July and August, Ben was the perfect choice and he is terrifically excited to be traveling around New Zealand with the company for Les Lutins(The story of Les Lutins is that two dancers are vying for the attentions of a ballerina whilst being accompanied by a violin soloist.  The ballerina is torn, but in the end she ops for the violinist!)  Go Ben!

Full tour details can be found on


Bella Hristova

Bella bewitched the audience (and judges!) when she won first prize at the 2007 Competition.  Recent recipient of the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, Bella makes a return visit to the South Island to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra on 21 May and then,  (many years in the making), Bella premieres Anthony Ritchie's commission with the Southern Sinfonia on 31 May.


Natalia Lomeiko

Hailing from Russia originally, Natalia's family immigrated to Christchurch when she was a young child and her parents still live there.  Natalia won the 2003 Competition and returns home from London to perform the perennial Tchaikovsky  Violin Concerto with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in their  aptly-named Russian Masters concert on 13 September.

Ning Feng

A very familiar face, particularly with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, is 2005 Competition winner, Ning Feng.  Feng returns again this year with the orchestra, this  time performing Benjamin Britten's arresting violin concerto on 16 November in the Town Hall.

And other past winner news!

Joseph Lin, now the first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, performed last December at the Competition's presenting partner, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, as part of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Chicago residency.

Kyle Macmillan  from Sun-Times Media reviewed the sold-out performance and had this to say:  "Because this concert was part of the Harris Theater’s Michael Hill Series, it included violinist Joseph Lin, first prize winner of the inaugural Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand in 2001. He brought a light, refined sound and a buoyant line to his fine solo work in the Concerto No. 5."

Competition  Board news

After a decade-plus of dedicated service to the Competition, Sir James Wallace decided to step down as Chairman of the Competition's board of trustees.  Sir James played a pivotal role in the establishment and development of the Competition, even chairing the international judges panel in the early days.  In full recognition of not only his contributions to the Competition, but his massive support to the NZ arts community, the Competition made Sir James a Patron of the Competition (alongside the Rt Hon Helen Clark).

Brent Goldsack, a senior partner at PriceWaterhouseCooper, and a Competition enthusiast, is now the Competition's chairman of the board of trustees.

The Board also recently appointed Queenstown resident Alison Gerry a trustee.  Alison is a professional director with a wealth of knowledge in finance, risk management, and governance.  She and her husband Alistair and their daughter Bella have been a host family to past competitors.
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