This year’s line-up includes Wellington-born Benjamin Baker who is one of country’s most exciting young classical musicians. He was recently awarded a first prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.
Baker will be joined in the Queenstown quarter-finals by a group of returning Michael Hill competitors – Ioana Cristina Goicea (Romania), Luke Hsu (USA), Jung Min Choi (South Korea), Natsumi Tsuboi (Japan) and Mari Lee (South Korea / Japan).
Competing for the first time are Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaia (Russia / USA), So Young Choi (South Korea), Asako Fukuda (Japan), Jaeook Lee (Korea), Kunwha Lee (South Korea), Yoo Min Seo (South Korea), Sumina Studer (Switzerland), Momo Wong (Japan / USA) and Galiya Zharova (Kazakhstan) and Hye-Jin Kim (South Korea).
The 16 performers are currently practicing anywhere from 4 to 13 hours a day, depending on their engagements, classes, recordings and performances. On top of their violin schedules, many also undertake physical and mindfulness training, including karate and yoga.
The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is New Zealand’s most prestigious music competition and one of the finest violin competitions in the world. Every two years it brings to New Zealand some of the world’s celebrated classical musicians to judge the very best young violinists (aged 18-28 years).
The Michael Hill has been a platform for some of the world’s most successful contemporary violinists, teachers, concertmasters and ensemble players in the world. This includes the recently appointed Concertmaster for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Nikki Chooi, who won the 2013 competition.
The winner of the Michael Hill receives NZ$40,000, a recording contract with the Atoll label, an intensive performance tour across New Zealand and Australia, and a personalised professional development programme. The winner is also invited to perform on Sir Michael Hill’s magnificent personal violin, a 1755 Guadagnini named “The Southern Star”, on their Winner’s Tour.
Alongside the thrill of the Competition, which is open to the public in both Queenstown and Auckland, the Michael Hill also provides development opportunities for local violinists to learn from and work with the visiting artists. This includes workshops, masterclasses, rehearsals and ‘Insider Talks’ with industry professionals.
The event attracts live audiences of more than 7000 and its online performance views exceed 250,000 (including 26,000 live streaming).