The Michael Hill International Violin Competition ("CompetitionĒ) is a biennial event that has, since its inauguration in 2001, catapulted to international recognition and has achieved global standing. It was awarded membership in the prestigious World Federation of Music Competitions (Geneva) in 2004 and has become a much-anticipated and enjoyed highlight in the New Zealand and international musical calendar.
Past winners have gone on to achieve remarkable success:
- 2001, Joseph Lin (Taiwan/USA) First Violin, Juilliard String Quartet
- 2003, Natalia Lomeiko (Russia/NZ) Professor, Royal College of Music
- 2005, Feng Ning (China) Solo performance career with over 60 concerts per year
- 2007, Bella Hristova (Bulgaria) Solo performance career, Young Concert Artist
- 2009, Josef äpaček (Czech Republic) Concertmaster, Czech Philharmonic
- 2011, Sergey Malov (Russia), Extensive performing artist, violin, viola, violoncello spalla
The judges have largely contributed to the prestige of the Competition. Musical luminaries such as Pierre Amoyal, Boris Kuschnir, Cho-Liang Lin and Pamela Frank have been amongst the international panel of jurors. A panel of New Zealand and Australiaís leading violinists convene in person to select the semi-finalists that will compete live in Queenstown and Auckland. Dene Olding, co-concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and first violinist of the Goldner Quartet and the Australian Ensemble is the Competitionís Artistic Adviser.
New Zealand artistic collaborators have included Michael Houstoun, Diedre Irons, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, all three members of the NZTrio and Chamber Music New Zealand. A New Zealand composer is commissioned for every Competition to create a unique set-piece for the programme.
The competitors (ages 18-28) hail from every corner of the world; over 125 applications were received from an average of 27 countries. Because the Competition provides travel and accommodation for the semi-finalists, it attracts a very large number of applicants, thus ensuring rigorous competition and an excellent caliber of competitor (not just those with means to travel to New Zealand). The competitors are billeted with generous families in both Queenstown and Auckland providing a human contact, a local support base and a connection with the community. All semi-finalists also receive professional development activities to increase their skill level and better their career trajectories.
The Winnerís Tour takes place in partnership with Chamber Music New Zealand and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra every second year and provides the previous yearís winner with a substantial concert tour through New Zealand. (It also affords New Zealanders across the country the opportunity to hear the winner in their own hometown.) Like the Competition itself, the Winnerís Tour has also grown in reputation since it first began, and attracted presenting partners like The Harris Theatre in Chicago.
Educational Initiatives and Professional Development are offered to the Competitors and throughout New Zealand to ensure that engagement with the next generation of Kiwis are afforded information and inspiration. Masterclasses and further professional development opportunities are provided by the artist-judges for Competition violinists and tertiary students and casual Classroom Conversations are held in secondary schools across the country.
An Insiders's Guide, launched in 2011 to celebrate the Competition's 10th anniversary, provides in-depth and enriching dialogue with the audience to provide insights and a greater understanding of why the winners are selected.
All performances are uploaded within a few hours to www.youtube.com/MHIVC, allowing growing international audience to experience the Competition and New Zealand's cultural offerings remotely (as evidenced by over 100,000 views from the 2011 Competition).
The Competitionís prestige is such that it has as its Patron, Helen Clark, the Administrator of the United National Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand. Sir Michael was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) in 2010 for services to business and the arts, the Chairman of the Competitionís trust, Sir James Wallace, was also awarded a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) for services to the arts in 2011. Collaborating pianist, Diedre Irons, was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to music, and Michael Houstoun has been made a Companion of the said Order (CNZM) for services as a pianist.
The Michael Hill Violin Competition is a member of the
World Federation of International Music Competitions