The violinists, aged 18-28, were whittled down from 140 applicants representing 32 countries, and will compete at the New Zealand contest for a top prize of NZ$40,000
The 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, taking place in New Zealand in June next year, has announced the quarter-finalists selected to compete in its live public rounds.
The 16 young musicians, aged 18-28, were whittled down from 140 applicants representing 32 countries, and will compete for a top prize of NZ$40,000, a recording contract with the Atoll label, a performance tour across New Zealand and Australia, and a professional development programme. The top ranked player will also have the opportunity to perform on Sir Michael Hill’s 1755 Guadagnini 'The Southern Star' violin, on his or her Winner’s Tour.
This year's group of quarter-finalists feature a number of names familiar to the competitive circuit, including New Zealand-born 26-year-old Benjamin Baker (pictured), a winner at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York and 2013 first prize winner at the Windsor Festival International String Competition; 2016 Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition winner Luke Hsu from the US; and 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition third prize winner Zeyu Victor Li from China.
The full list of quarter-finalists are:
Benjamin Baker (Male) - New Zealand
Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaia (Female) - Russia / USA
Maia Cabeza (Female) - Canada / USA
Jung Min Choi (Female) - South Korea
So Young Choi (Female) - South Korea
Ioana Goicea (Female) - Romania
Luke Hsu (Male) - USA
Mari Lee (Female) - South Korea / Japan
Jaeook Lee (Male) - South Korea
Kunwha Lee (Female) - South Korea
Zeyu Victor Li (Male) - China
Thomas Reif (Male) - Germany
Yoo Min Seo (Female) - South Korea
Natsumi Tsuboi (Female) - Japan
Momoko Wong (Female) - Japan / USA
Galiya Zharova (Female) - Kazakhstan
This year's jury comprises USA’s Pamela Frank, Ilya Gringolts from Russia/UK, South Korea’s Dong-Suk Kang, Finland/NZ’s Vesa-Matti Leppänen, Romania’s Silvia Marvovici, Dene Olding from Australia and Krzysztof Wegrzyn of Poland/Germany.
The Michael Hill Competition takes place every two years in Queenstown and Auckland, and has helped to launch the careers of a number of leading violinists, including newly-appointed Concertmaster for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Nikki Chooi, who won the 2013. 2015's winner was Suyeon Kang from Australia.
Photo: Kaupo Kikkas