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School of Music students compete for $5k prize at graduation

School of Music students compete for $5000 prize at graduation concert

Three young virtuoso musicians from the University of Auckland’s School of Music will take to the stage in early May to compete for a $5,000 grand prize and the opportunity to progress an illustrious solo career, at the popular annual Graduation Gala Concerto Competition, held at the Auckland Town Hall.

Now in its eighth year, the finalists, Hilary Hayes (violin), Kento Isomura (piano) and Hye-Won Suh (flute) will perform a concerto accompanied by the University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by internationally acclaimed musician and School of Music Professor Uwe Grodd. The event’s MCs are celebrated author Senior Lecturer Davinia Caddy and renowned composer and percussionist Gareth Farr.

A special feature of this year’s concert is an opening performance of Oh Fortuna by Carmina Burana sung by students from the School of Music and the University of Auckland Chamber Choir, conducted by Associate Professor Karen Grylls.

This will be followed by Hilary Hayes performing Violin Concerto in A Minor by Dvorak, Kento Isomura performing Piano Concerto No. 3 by Prokofiev and Hye-Won Suh performing Concerto for Flute and Orchestraby Ibert.

The judges are Dr David Lines and John Chen from the University of Auckland, and Donald Armstrong from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, who will act as the external adjudicator. The prizes have been generously sponsored again by Musicworks and the top performer will receive $5,000 with $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third.

"The Graduation Gala Concerto Competition is a special opportunity for the Auckland community to see and hear the outstanding musical talent of the classical performance students at the University of Auckland’s School of Music,” says Dr David Lines, Head of School of Music (Acting). ”We are very proud of the international standard of musicianship our performers are presenting on the Town Hall stage. The Gala is not only a wonderful experience to be part of; it is a tribute to the students’ achievement and the dedication and input of their performance teachers.”

The University of Auckland Graduation Gala Concerto Competition will be held on 6 May at the Auckland Town Hall (Queen Street) at 7.30pm. Admission is free; patrons are strongly advised to arrive early to be assured of admission.
Visit the Graduation Gala website:

Hilary Hayes, 20, from Claudelands, Hamilton, has been playing the violin since the age of six and is currently studying violin under the tutelage of Professional Teaching Fellow Stephen Larsen. Solo competition success includes second place in the 2011/2012 National Concerto Competition, and winning the Performing Arts Competition Association of New Zealand (PACANZ) and the KBB Music National Performers Competition. Hilary’s trio was awarded the Pettman/Royal Overseas League Arts International Scholarship for a New Zealand Chamber Ensemble in 2009 (valued at $50,000). Hilary was formerly concertmaster of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra (2012) and currently plays as a casual violinist for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Kento Isomura, 22, from Mairangi Bay, is studying for a Master of Music in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Senior Lecturer Stephen De Pledge. Kento has been invited to perform many times over the past few years, as a soloist and collaborative pianist, and has received numerous awards in festivals and competitions. In 2010, Kento was invited to perform in the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Showcase. In 2011, he collaborated with the University of Auckland cello lecturer Martin Rummel to perform in the Sofia Gubaidulina Festival, where they received an outstanding review for their performance of Shostakovich’s Sonata in D minor. In the same year, Kento performed at the final event of the Rugby World Cup Road Show Tour held at the Viaduct Harbour, Auckland. In 2012, Kento performed the last movement of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for the International Conductors Workshop taken by Christopher Seaman. Kento and his brother Shauno (violin) were special guest performers for the Japan Day Festival 2013 at the ASB show grounds. Also in 2013, Kento was a finalist in the 46th Christchurch National Concerto Competition and received the Arts Blues Award from the University of Auckland.

Hye-Won Suh was born in Daejeon, Korea in 1991 and immigrated to New Zealand at the age of 10. The 22 year-old Birkdale resident graduated from Westlake Girls High School where she was principal flute in the Westlake Symphony Orchestra and also a soloist with the Westlake Chamber Orchestra. Hye-Won gained success as a national finalist of the New Zealand Chamber Music Contest in 2008, and was winner of the KBB Woodwind Competition in 2009 and the Tauranga Performing Arts Competition in 2010. Hye-Won received the Vice Chancellor’s Arts Support Fund (the University of Auckland), which enabled her to travel to Canberra in 2013 to compete as one of four finalists of the Australian Flute Competition. This year she received the Anne Bellam Scholarship to assist her study at the University of Auckland. She has played principal flute in various orchestras such as the Auckland Youth Orchestra, University of Auckland Orchestra, St Matthews Orchestra and the NZSO Youth Orchestra. Hye-Won is also occasionally engaged by Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for their Young Achiever’s recital and APO Open Days.


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