The violinists, aged 18-28, are competing at the New Zealand contest for a top prize of NZ$40,000

michael hill

The 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, taking place in New Zealand from 2 to 10 June, has named its six semi-finalists.

The young violinists have been whittled down from 140 applicants, aged 18 to 28, and 16 quarter-finalists. They are competing 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’ on his or her Winner’s Tour.

Among the remaining performers are New Zealand-born Benjamin Baker, 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; and 2016 Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition winner Luke Hsu from the US.

The semi-finalists are:

Benjamin Baker – New Zealand

Ioana Cristina Goicea – Romania

Luke Hsu (pictured) – USA

Kunwha Lee – South Korea

Olga Š roubková – Czech Republic

Sumina Studer – Switzerland

Each semi-finalist will perform Mozart string quintets with New Zealand musicians, Ashley Brown on cello, Justine Cormack on violin, and Gillian Ansell and Julia Joyce on viola at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber on 7 and 8 June. Just three violinists will be chosen to perform a concerto in the Grand Final on 10 June with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Giordano Bellincampi.

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 in 2013. 2015’s winner was Suyeon Kang from Australia.