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Warm Kiwi Welcome Awaits International Violin Musicians

Warm Kiwi Welcome Awaits Michael Hill International Violin Competition Musicians

This month, 18 of the world’s top young violinists arrive in New Zealand to compete in the prestigious Michael Hill International Violin Competition – and to make them feel at home, they’ll be hosted by 36 families in Queenstown and Auckland.

The 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition takes place in Auckland and Queenstown from 31 May to 8 June and has been held biennially since 2001. Billeting the violinists with families has been at the core of the competition since it started 12 years ago and executive director Anne Rodda says it’s a wonderful link between the musicians and the community.
“It provides competitors with a built-in support system and someone in the audience who is willing them (and a shoulder to cry on if they don’t) and it’s great for the host families who have an opportunity to really get to know a rising star,” Anne says. “It’s all part of the very warm welcome we like to give our musicians, many of whom are quite young and have travelled a long distance to compete.
“Often the relationship continues for years after the competition. We had one violinist who rang their Queenstown host every Sunday for years after they met and other hosts have visited their billeted musicians when travelling overseas.”

In 2011, Alison Gerry and herhusband Alistair Nicholson hosted Korean violinist Min Kyung Sul and say they enjoyed the experience so much they are looking forward to hosting a competitor this month.

“It was a wonderful way to welcome someone from a different culture into the family. At the time our teenage daughter Bella was playing violin and we had hoped this would inspire her further with her music and it did for a while.”

As a host, the family not only looked after Min Kyung, but were her support network during the competition. “We went along to all her performances and I think it’s good that she knew she had someone in the audience who was ‘cheering’ her on. I did feel nervous for her and hoped she would be happy with her playing.
“We got totally immersed in the whole competition and loved having the inside knowledge – Min Kyung would tell us who we should look out for.”
Alison says the family enjoyed showing Min Kyung some of the local attractions and took her shopping, jetboating and up to Coronet Peak, “but she also practiced four to six hours a day and it was just incredible having someone in the house playing beautiful music. All of us were entranced and it really was special.”
Min Kyung didn’t make it through to the top six, but Alison and the family came up to Auckland for the competition finals. “By then we were following other competitors as well and had got to know a number of them. Friends of ours hosted the eventual second runner-up Xiang Yu and it was a thrill to see him in the finals.”
The Michael Hill International Violin Competition takes place at Queenstown Memorial Hall from Friday 31 May to Monday 3 June with each violinist competing in the initial two rounds playing solo and accompanied works with pianists Diedre Irons and Sarah Watkins.

Six violinists compete in the Semi-Final Rounds in Auckland on Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 June at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall with the top three competing in the Grand Finale with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra on Saturday 8 June at the Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

For more information and to book tickets, visit


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