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Musicians Tune Up for National Chamber Music Contest

Young Wellington Musicians Tune Up for National Chamber Music Contest

More than 100 young Wellington musicians are tuning up to compete in the annual NZCT Chamber Music Contest.

The Wellington District Contest of the NZCT Chamber Music Contest takes place on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June at the Adam Concert Room, Te Kõkï New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University and is one of 15 district contests being held nationwide to select the top 12 ensembles that will compete in the National Finals in Wellington in August.

Pictured: Hamilton's Yerevan Trio were the winners of the 2016 New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest. Marianna Kang (piano), Sophie Zheng (violin) and Hyein Kim (cello)
This year the Wellington Contest has attracted 32 ensembles involving 112 musicians including a strings octet, with music from Haydn to Shostakovich. Works by five New Zealand composers feature including a new piece penned by 2015 Composition Junior Division winner and cellist Benjamin Sneyd-Utting.

The Wellington Contest will be adjudicated by Auckland University lecturer and principal bassoonist of the Sydney Omega Ensemble Ben Hoadley and Auckland Philharmonia section principal cello Eliah Sakakushev–von Bismarck.

Throughout New Zealand during the first half of June, 439 ensembles of between three and eight musicians will compete for spots in the National Finals in Wellington in August.

Last year the contest was won by Hamilton’s Yerevan Trio, the first time a Hamilton ensemble had won the contest in the event’s history.

The NZCT Chamber Music Contest is the longest running youth music competition in New Zealand. It is the only nationwide chamber music competition for young musicians and composers. As well as organising the contest, Chamber Music New Zealand also arranges coaching and open workshops for ensembles with the support of the Judith Clark Memorial Fund.

At the end of each District Contest the winning group from each district, and up to four highly commended groups, will be named and an award will be given for the overall Best Performance of a New Zealand work.

Following the Wellington District round, the top ensembles from the East Coast, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Manawatu and Wellington contests will travel to Napier to compete in the Central Regional Finals on Saturday 24 June. The top 12 ensembles from the three Regional Finals held in Auckland, Napier and Christchurch will compete in the National Finals on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August in Wellington.

The winning group at the National Final receives the Wallace Foundation Prize of $6000.

This year 22 entries have been received for the Original Composition section of the Contest – eight in the Junior division and 14 in the Senior division. Two entries have been received from Wellington students with 2015 Junior Division winner Benjamin Sneyd-Utting putting forward a new piece. Wellington composer Michael Norris will select the two winning scores (Junior and Senior) and the winning composers will be announced in later this month.

Michael said he remembered entering the contest as a student both as a performer and in the composition section and said feedback from an adjudicator was part of his decision to move into composition.

Michael said that as adjudicator of the composition divisions this year he will be looking for pieces which are compelling, interesting and “ear-catching. Does the music ‘pull me along’ its trajectory of forward motion and does it show me something that I haven’t heard before.”

The winners of the composition divisions will be awarded SOUNZ cash prizes and a year’s subscription to CANZ (Composers’ Association of New Zealand).

The national contest is well-known for nurturing young musicians who go on to successful musical careers. Iconic New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun competed in the event when he was a school student in Timaru and 27-year-old violinist, Amalia Hall was a Contest winner in 2003 and 2004.

In presenting the NZCT Chamber Music Contest, Chamber Music New Zealand acknowledges the generous support of NZCT, University of Auckland, SOUNZ (Centre for NZ Music), CANZ (Composers’ Association of New Zealand), The Wallace Foundation, KBB Music and our regional funders who support events at District Contests.

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