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Rolls Royce of Violins & Violinists Come To NZ

Media Release
7 February 2005

Rolls Royce of Violins and Violinists come to New Zealand

“Capacity and technique should not be all. The feelings of the heart are as important as what comes from the fingers. Personality and passion are so important. Here in New Zealand I think we’ve seen this dream begin to come true.” [Pierre Amoyal, The Strad]

The seven adjudicators for this year’s Michael Hill International Violin Competition have been confirmed. The prestigious line-up, all of whom are world-class musicians, are: Salvatore Accardo (Italy), Pierre Amoyal (France); Justine Cormack (New Zealand); Paul Kantor (USA); Takako Nishizaki (Japan/Hong Kong); Dene Olding (Australia), and Krzysztof Wegrzyn (Poland/Germany).

For the 18 semi-finalists in the competition, the adjudicators are seen as role models. Aside from their musicianship, it is also their instruments, many of them famous and all of them of superior quality (including more than a few made by Stradivarius – the Rolls Royce of violin-makers), that these young musicians aspire to owning one day.

The 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition runs from 3-11 June in Queenstown and Auckland. Generous prizes, including a first prize of NZ$40,000, will help in the quest for the likes of a Stradivarius. New to the competition this year is a generous donation of a fine Italian violin by contemporary Italian maker, Riccardo Bergonzi.

“The value of this violin competition lies not just in monetary terms,” says sponsor Michael Hill, who has personally contributed another $125,000 to ensure that the competition remains one of the best in the world. “The real value,” he says, “is the contribution to New Zealand music, to New Zealand culture, and to increased international awareness of New Zealand. My aim is to make New Zealanders more aware of serious music, to increase the quality of home-grown playing and composing, so that New Zealand has a musical culture to balance its sporting one.”

"Already an increasing number of young people are playing the violin and other instruments and are doing well here and overseas,” he says. “And one of the rules of the competition is that the contestants must play – in addition to the extremely challenging violin repertoire – a piece composed especially for the competition by New Zealander, David Farquhar, entitled Earth, Wind and Fire.”

Entries for this year’s competition are up considerably from previous years which is a strong indication of the reputation the Michael Hill International Violin Competition is receiving internationally. Hill, following a recent trip abroad, reported that the competition is now being spoken of in Europe as one of the major violin events of the year. “What makes it unique,” he says, “is the format and the simplicity. First, it is held in a small country town (Queenstown) as well as in a city (Auckland). The players (aged 18-30) are billeted with families in the respective areas so there is a real sense of community, and of support. And all competitors stay until the end of the finals – this does not happen in overseas competitions, where the competitors leave as soon as they are eliminated from a round."

The first two rounds of the semi-finals are held in Queenstown’s Memorial Hall from 4-6 June. The top six semi-finalists then perform with the New Zealand Trio in Auckland on 8-9 June. From this round, three finalists are selected to compete in the final round, a concerto performance on Saturday 11 June in the Auckland Town Hall accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia.

From a field of nearly 100 applicants representing 27 different countries, including five applicants from New Zealand, the following musicians will be flown, at the competition's expense, to compete in the semi-finals in Queenstown.
Sean Carpenter (USA) Nam Seol Eugene Lee (Korea/NZ)
Yun-Jin Cho (Korea) Shih-Kai Lin (Taiwan)
Felipe Rodriguez Garcia (Spain) Lucja Madziar (Poland)
Quan Ge (China) Feng Ning (China)
Liana Gourdjia (Russia) Jean-Sébastien Roy (Canada)
Wen-Lei Gu (China) Alexsandra Tomasinska (Poland)
Mei Ching Huang (Taiwan) Andrew Wan (Canada)
Eung Soo Kim (Korea) Zhijiong Wang (China)
Yvonne Lam (USA) Bartosz Filip Woroch (Poland)

New Zealand will be pinning its hopes on Eugene Lee, who was the winner of the 2004 New Zealand Young Musician of the Year Competition and is currently studying for his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Auckland.


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