Michael Hill International Violin Competition 2017 details announced

As the winner of the 2015 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Australian Suyeon Kang, makes her mark across New Zealand and Australia on her Winner’s Tour, the details for the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition have been announced.
Queenstown will again play host for the first two rounds of the globally recognised competition for violinists aged 18-28, on 2-5 June 2017. From the 16 competitors, six will advance to Round III in Auckland on 7-8 June, before three finalists are then invited to perform in the highly anticipated grand final at Auckland’s Town Hall on Saturday 10 June
The esteemed international jury for the 2017 event has also been confirmed. It comprises Pamela Frank (USA), Ilya Gringolts (Russia, UK), Dong-Suk Kang (South Korea), Vesa-Matti Leppanen (Finland/NZ), Silvia Marcovici (Romania), Dene Olding (Australia) and Krzysztof Wegzhen (Poland/Germany). The 2017 Chair of Jury is Dr Robin Congreve (NZ). 
Working with and alongside the performers will be the 2017 collaborating artists, all representing leading New Zealand ensembles. The Queenstown pianists will again be Diedre Irons and Sarah Watkins. Round III (now Mozart String Quintets) will feature Justine Cormack on violin and Ashley Brown on cello, plus violists Gillian Ansell and Julia Joyce. The Final Round will be concertos with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by their Music Director Giordano Bellincampi.  The original New Zealand work, a set piece in the quarter-finals, is this year composed by Karlo Margetic.
The 2017 Competition’s selection panel is again a team of leading New Zealand violinists who also represent a number of significant ensembles. They include Justine Cormack (NZTrio),
Vesa-Matti Leppanen (NZSO concertmaster), Helene Pohl (NZ String Quartet) and Andrew Beer (APO Concertmaster). They are joined by the Competition’s Artistic Adviser, Dene Olding (Sydney Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and first violin of the Goldner String Quartet). 
The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is New Zealand’s most prestigious music competition and is recognised as one of the finest violin competitions in the world. 
The winner receives $40,000, a recording contract, an intensive performance tour across New Zealand, and a personalised professional development programme. The winner is also invited to perform on Sir Michael Hill’s personal violin, a 1755 Guadagnini named “The Southern Star”, on their Winner’s Tour.
Of winning the 2015 Competition, Australian violinist Suyeon Kang says, “Winning the Michael Hill is a real honour. It has been an amazing opportunity to explore this beautiful country, to work with incredible artists like the APO and Stephen de Pledge, as well as other great people like dress designer Kiri Nathan and Competition Executive Director Anne Rodda. 
“As musicians we are constantly looking for performance opportunities and to get around 17 concerts in a one month tour is a real luxury. All of this put together has been a real eye opener and certainly helped boost my confidence. Luckily for me it meant also being able spend more time at home in Australia!”

According to Competition Executive Director, Anne Rodda, characterising what makes a Michael Hill winner has been something the board has been working on extensively since last year, in order to ensure the Competition is doing the very best job it can in creating opportunities for participants and helping to launch successful careers for its winners.
“We believe, win or not, the value of taking part in a competition like the Michel Hill is unparalleled. The intensity of a competition of course requires the violinists to put in a serious amount of work, but they also need to become a ‘whole performer’ to succeed in this competition. This means, as well as bringing their very best artistry and prowess to New Zealand, they need to ensure they have what it takes to shine in a crowded market. 
“Young artists these days have many career options and platforms available, as evidenced by the varied career paths of our past winners which reads as a who’s-who of professional violinists across the world. We honour and support whichever direction their career takes them in.”
Rodda says there are some changes to the 2017 Competition, all of which have been artistically-driven.
“In 2017 there will be 16 instead of 18 competitors. This is designed to make room for full length programmes and complete works in Rounds I and II (as well as more expansive rehearsal time with their pianists). We intend for the competitors to perform, not ‘audition’ once they get to New Zealand. The Queenstown Rounds have been extended to four days to give some much needed ‘breathing space’ around the individual performances.”
“There will be a new repertoire category in Queenstown, Ad Libitum (‘at one’s pleasure’), which is basically the competitor’s choice and we will require the performer ntroduces their chosen work, themselves, from stage.  This ought to give the judges some insight into what the competitors have besides extraordinary technique.
Another change for 2017 will be seen in the initial selection process – an additional heat has become necessary in order to adequately review an increasing number of applications (the 2015 competition received a record 158 entries) and, whereas until now the identity of the initial applicants has been kept secret from the selection panel, their identities and accomplishments will be revealed for the final heat of the selection process. 
Rodda says, “Recordings will always be the best tool our industry has for auditions, but we have come to the view that the Michael Hill is more about the whole artist and not just the ability and resources to create an impeccable audition tape. 
“The Michael Hill International Violin Competition aims to recognise and celebrate excellence, distinctiveness and musical artistry. We encourage talented young violinists from all over the world who are on the verge of launching themselves on the world stage to audition. We hope the experience will empower them with the necessary skills to broaden their career opportunities. 
“We take pride in New Zealand Aotearoa’s cultural offerings and artistic talents. By hosting this major event and inviting the world’s celebrated young violinists to our beautiful country, we are raising awareness of fine music and global standards of musical performance in order to richly impact the next generation of talent in New Zealand.”
Applications for the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition open on 1 September and close at 5pm NSZT on 16 November.