The six chosen competitors will lead a Mozart quintet in the semi-final rounds, to be held in Auckland this week


The six semi-finalists © James Robert Photography

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After four days of competition in Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island, the six semi-finalists for the 2023 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, supported by the Hill Family Foundation for Arts and Music, have been announced.

This year’s semi-finalists, selected from 16 quarterfinalists and before that over 160 entrants from across the world are:

Gabrielle Despres (22, Canada/United States)

Yeyeong Jenny Jin (20, South Korea/United States)

Lorenz Karls (21, Sweden/Austria)

Eva Rabchevska (26, Ukraine/Germany)

Aoi Saito (25, Japan/Germany)

Claire Wells (22, United States/Germany)

The semi-finalists now head up to Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau in the North Island, for the semi-final rounds which take place at the Town Hall on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 June. Each of the six candidates will lead one of four selected Mozart Quintets alongside collaborative artists violinist Amalia Hall, violists Gillian Ansell and Robert Ashworth, and cellist Ashley Brown.

 Three competitors will then be selected to progress to this year’s Grand Final, on Saturday 10 June, in which they will perform a major violin concerto with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Litton.

The winner of the Michael Hill receives NZ$40,000 (£19,500), a recording contract with the Atoll label, and a multi-centre Winner’s Tour with Chamber Music New Zealand. Also up for grabs is a special prize of a three-year loan of a fine violin by Rare Violins of New York.

The international judging panel in 2023 includes past competition winners Bella Hristova, Ning Feng (2005) and Natalia Lomeiko (2003); as well as violinists Wilma Smith, James Ehnes, Anthony Marwood and pianist Piers Lane.

The ’Michael Hill’ has been a platform for some of the world’s most successful contemporary soloists, teachers, concertmasters and ensemble players in the world, including Joseph Lin, Josef Spaček, Nikki and Timothy Chooi, Ning Feng, Sergey Malov, Ray Chen and the 2019 winner Anna Im. The event is made possible with the generosity of the Hill Family Foundation for Arts and Music, and major supporters Craigs Investment Partners, Michael Hill International, Chiron Group and Nockies Pallette Wines. 

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