The countdown commences...

June: the unofficial NZ Classical Music Month

If you love music and you live in New Zealand, then you’d almost need to be living under a rock to not know that May is New Zealand Music Month. Playlists of the country’s favourite rock, pop, hip hop and electronic music flood radio stations up and down the country and we collectively celebrate what a talented nation we are, musically.
What many mainstream music lovers don’t know is that, come June, the country’s classical musicians get their time to shine – and, in particular, young classical music lovers – thanks to events like the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Chamber Music New Zealand’s Chamber Music Contest and the New Zealand Choral Federation's The Big Sing.
The Michael Hill brings together 20 of the world’s finest young violinists and seven renowned international judges for a series of performances, workshops and concerts. There are many opportunities to experience the revered Competition at different stages.
This year the Competition’s touring partner, Chamber Music New Zealand, is celebrating 50 years of its iconic Chamber Music Contest for young people.
Founded in 1965 by Viennese émigré Arthur Hilton and New Zealander Joan Kerr, the Chamber Music Contest has a long list of alumni, including acclaimed pianist Michael Houstoun, members of the NZTrio and violinist Wilma Smith.

For many young musicians, their first encounter with chamber music is through the Contest. Last year nearly 2000 students from 15 regional centres took part.

With that in mind, there could be no better way to celebrate 50 years of chamber music than with the Turnovsky Jubilee Ensemble, a fabulous alumni ensemble made up of Contest-winners spanning 25 years. On Friday 12 June, the ensemble (which happens to include many familiar Michael Hill artists) will take to the stage in Auckland during a week of activities that supports musical talent and rising stars. 

For more information and tickets visit

The New Zealand Choral Federation’s The Big Sing is an annual event involving around 10,000 young singers from nearly 150 secondary schools across the country. Two hundred and fifty choirs enter the 11 regional festivals which take place in June, from which a selection is then invited to perform in the National Finale from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 August at Wellington's  Michael Fowler Centre. 

The festival’s paramount aim is to encourage enjoyment in singing and foster excellence in performance among young New Zealanders. It kick-starts a lifetime of singing for many of its participants. 

This year’s Auckland regional festival will be held in the Auckland Town Hall 9 – 11 June and will involve 70 choirs from 40 secondary schools. Daytime sessions and the Thursday evening gala are open to the public.
For more info, please visit
Chamber Music New Zealand's Jubilee Contest

Focus on: Joseph Lin        
(International Juror)

Performer, teacher and member of the Juilliard String Quartet Joseph Lin won the inaugural Michael Hill International Violin Competition in 2001. He was 22 at the time.

Fourteen years later we look forward to welcoming him back to the Competition, however this time he’ll be on the other side of the desk as one of our esteemed international jurors.

He spoke to us from Tucson, Arizona, where he was performing in the 22nd Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival.

Even though you’d been playing violin since you were four years old, what did winning the Michael Hill International Violin Competition do for your career?

Winning this Competition brought many opportunities, particularly in NZ. Not only was I able to return for the Winner’s Tour in 2002, but I was lucky enough to have several other chances to perform in New Zealand in subsequent years.

Practically speaking, entering a competition like the Michael Hill isn’t just about having concerts lined up, it also provides a great learning opportunity – to prepare a lot of repertoire and play it in a highly concentrated time frame. There’s no other learning opportunity like it.

How does it feel to be sitting on a jury alongside Pierre Amoyal, who was on the jury when you won the Competition?

It is a huge honour. I am grateful and appreciate sitting alongside colleagues whom I consider my seniors and deeply respect.

This is something I’ve been experiencing a bit more lately – being on the other side of the jury table.  Yet it seems only yesterday that I was the one doing the playing, and nervous about it! If nothing else, this makes me more sympathetic to the contestants, as I am very aware of their stresses.

What will be your strategy as juror?

Not only will I assess each performer’s skills, I will also be looking for a personal voice, a sense of open-mindedness and curiosity.

More than absolutely irreproachable technique, I think the winner needs to be on a path of discovery and exploration – it’s necessary for a sustainable life in music.

What’s on the horizon for you at the moment?

There’s a lot going on and it’s not all about music – our third baby arrived at the end of March, surprising us three weeks before his due date! I've made a point to keep the summer clear of commitments so I can spend plenty of time with my wife and our three boys.  

What are you reading at the moment?

It’s embarrassing – with life the way it is at the moment, it seems everything I do is practical: I read submissions from students, review essays and proofread. I truly miss reading for pleasure and I am looking forward to having one or two good books with me on the plane to New Zealand!

Rest a while 

Competition tickets are on sale so, when considering your travel plans to Queenstown and Auckland, we would be delighted if you support our Destination Partners.

In Queenstown, these are the Hotel St Moritz, Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel and Nugget Point Queenstown Hotel.
Hotel St Moritz (

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu, this full-service ‘alpine residence’ is a unique haven showcasing intriguing works of art. 

Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel (

A boutique hotel positioned just across a sports field from the Competition venue, this romantic getaway offers modern style and exclusive service.

Nugget Point Queenstown Hotel (

Nugget Point is suspended above the famous Shotover River at the base of Coronet Peak and features dramatic views and a luxurious spa.

In Auckland, we’re pleased to be working with The Stamford Plaza (, a five-star central city hotel just a short walk from the Auckland Town Hall. 

Guests of the Competition receive special rates, so please contact Reservations on (09) 309 8888 or at

Then, we hope you’ll choose Limousine Line Queenstown and Jucy Rentals to get you from A to B and home again.

Sponsor news

The Competition warmly welcomes new 
Competitor Sponsors Millbrook Resort, and Peter 
and Charlene Kraus.

One of our Tour Sponsors, Wellington Airport have announced plans they are extending their runway. This will enable direct long haul flights, deliver up to $1.7bn in direct economic benefits and cut international travelling time from Wellington by up to a third.
Wellington Airport is currently preparing the reports and assessments required for public consultation on the project. For New Zealanders, there will be plenty of opportunity to learn more and have input into the full proposal, in mid-2015.  
Find out more at

There are only a handful of sponsorship opportunities remaining for this Competition, so please contact if you’re interested in supporting exceptional talent and an important event for the country.

Don't miss...

Make sure your dance card has some capacity this month because there is a multitude of fantastic events and concerts taking place around New Zealand. We’ve included a few of them below.
Chang and Boléro (Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra)
She made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at eight and is now considered one of the most gifted violinists of her generation. 

International superstar Sarah Chang makes her Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra debut on Thursday 30 April in Chang and Boléro, the first concert in the Bayleys Great Classics series.
She performs a piece she has brought to new prominence, Dvořàk’s Violin Concerto

With other works in the programme including Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride and Bizet’s much-loved Carmen suites, the concert concludes with the unstoppable crescendo of Ravel’s Boléro. Post-concert, join Sarah Chang for an informal Q&A on stage.

Bookings at Ticketmaster or 0800 111 999. For more information, please visit
The Southern Lakes Festival of Colour

One of the South Island’s most vibrant festivals, The Southern Lakes Festival of Colour, returns to the region from 21– 27 April bringing with it some of the country’s best cultural performances.

For six kaleidoscopic days and nights, the biennial festival that has become known as the ‘best little arts festival in New Zealand’ will present world-class performances and exhibitions to locals and visitors to the region, all set against the spectacular autumnal backdrop of the Southern Lakes.

2015 highlights include the thirty-piece Southern Sinfonia Orchestra performing a tribute to artist Frances Hodgkins, three singers accompanied by NZTrio for 28 minutes of caffeinated pleasure with The Coffee Cantata, and Michael Houstoun performing Bach’s The Goldberg Variations. 

For more information, including the full programme and tickets, please visit
Southland Festival of the Arts 2015

The seventh annual Southland Festival of the Arts takes place from 22 April to 21 May. The festival presents an array of extraordinary artistic happenings across the region, including some of the best work from around the country as well as local talent. 

The festival showcases all arts genre, from performing to literary and visual arts. 

Co-ordinated by Venture Southland, the festival has been a highlight on Southland’s events calendar annually since 2009 and there is always something for everyone.

For more information, please click here.

The Baroque Festival, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s Baroque Festival is a celebration of a number of great musical works that illustrate the social and political landscape of a changing, post-Renaissance Europe, starting around 1600 and lasting for one and a half centuries.

During that time, music underwent a revolution of its own, championed by the likes of Handel, Lully, Vivaldi, Rameau and Bach. The CSO’s festival of baroque music also highlights the solo talents from within the CSO such as flautist Anthony Ferner, harpist Helen Webby and trumpeter Thomas Eves.

CSO’s Baroque Festival in Association with Beca comprises Splendour on Saturday 9th May at 7.30 pm; Opulence on Wednesday 13th May at 7.30 pm and Brilliance on Saturday 16th May at 7.30 pm. 

For more information, visit
Flute Magic (Southern Sinfonia)
As part of their popular Matinee Series, on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 May, the Southern Sinfonia welcome back two artists whose illustrious careers had their beginnings in Dunedin.
Bridget Douglas, the NZSO's Principal Flute, performs Mozart's Flute Concerto. Then, to celebrate 20 years since his first Sinfonia concert, Tecwyn Evans returns from his European base. His programme opens with one of Bach's most impressive orchestral works, Orchestral Suite No. 3, which contains the well-known Air on the G String.
More information, visit their web site.

Tickets on sale
All live rounds of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition are open to the public.
Auckland tickets are on sale through TicketMaster and Queenstown through Ticketek.
For more information, please visit or view the Competition’s Facebook page.

Copyright © 2015 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences