American violinist Stefani Collins will join 17 young violinists competing in the prestigious Michael Hill International Violin Competition 2011 held in Queenstown and Auckland in June.
Stefani was originally selected as the first of six alternates – competitors who are asked to prepare for the competition in the event that any of the original semi-finalists are unable to participate. She has been invited to compete following the withdrawal of Chinese violinist Qiang Xiaoxiao.
The 2011 competition begins in Queenstown on Friday 3 June with several opening events. Three intense days of rounds start on Saturday 4 June before the top six semi-finalists are named and compete in Auckland on 8 and 9 June. The final three finalists compete on Saturday 11 June, performing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
The Michael Hill Violin Competition is held biennially and competition director Anne Rodda says the calibre of this year’s semi-finalists is extremely high. “We had 40 more entries this year than ever before and it is considered one of the world’s most prestigious competitions. The calibre of the semi-finalists has certainly leapt up.”
Anne says that at the time of selecting the 18 semi-finalists, a process undertaken through audio recordings, six alternates are also selected “and we’ve never had a competition when we haven’t had to draw on at least one alternate. In fact, the 2009 competition winner, Josef Špaček, was originally first alternate. Qiang Xiaoxiao has been offered a place at the St Louis Symphony and travelling to New Zealand could jeopardise her visa.”
Stefani Collins currently studies violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Paul Kantor as a Starling Foundation Scholarship recipient and was the DeLay Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival. She won second at the Portnoy International Violin Competition in 2009.
The Michael Hill International Violin Competition aims to promote young violinists from all over the world who are launching their professional solo careers and are aspiring to establish themselves on the world stage. The competition wishes to recognise and encourage excellence and musical artistry, and to expand performance opportunities. All competition applicants are aged between 18-28 years.
The competition is judged by an international panel including Michael Dauth (Germany/Australia), Boris Garlitsky (Russia/UK), Philippe Graffin (France), Cho-Liang Lin (Taiwan/USA), Tasmin Little (UK), Vesa-Matti Leppänen (Finland/NZ) and Lara St John (Canada). The panel is chaired by New Zealander Dr Robin Congreve.
Anne Rodda says the competition propels a rising star onto the international stage.
“It really is a coveted title that offers unprecedented opportunities and exposure – hence we’re anticipating the 2011 competition to be fiercer than ever.”
Anne adds that competitors are given several opportunities to display their talent with no elimination between rounds one and two. And, those who don’t make it into the top six remain with the group and undertake masterclasses and continue to receive mentoring from the judges and McCanns Worldgroup on brand management and PriceWaterhouseCoopers on international taxation.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the competition and features a performance by 2009 winner Josef Špaček, the newly-appointed concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic, and a special Insider’s Guide’ to the competition with well-known New Zealand violinist Justine Cormack.
The winner of the Michael Hill International receives $NZ40,000, a CD recording through Atoll, and a winner’s tour in 2012 with Chamber Music New Zealand. Second through sixth prizes receive NZ$1,000 to NZ$10,000 and a prize of NZ$2,000 will be awarded to the semi-finalist who has the best performance of New Zealand composer, John Psathas, specially-commissioned work Gyftiko (“gypsy”). A new prize offered by Julian Anderson will award the best chamber music player NZ$2,000 and the Michael Hill Audience Prize will be determined by audience texting.
The Michael Hill International Violin Competition begins on Friday 3 June in Queenstown and includes discussions with the judges and violin expert Julian Paul Anderson as well as the Welcome Back Winner recital with Josef Špaček and Sarah Watkins (piano). The semi-final rounds take place in Queenstown on Saturday 4, Sunday 5 and Monday 6 June before the six top semi-finalists compete in Auckland on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 June. The exciting grand finale takes place on Saturday 11 June when the three finalist perform full concerti with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Tickets to the semi-final rounds and events in Queenstown are available through TICKETEK on 0800 TICKETEK or www.ticketek.co.nz. Tickets for the Auckland semi-finals and finals are available by phoning 0800 BUY TICKETS or www.buytickets.co.nz. For the full programme of events and more information visit www.michaelhillinternationalviolincompetition.co.nz
The Michael Hill Violin Competition is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions (Geneva).
The Competition gratefully acknowledges support received from its array of sponsors including Michael Hill International, ANZ, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, McCann Worldgroup, Villa Maria Estate, Hotel DeBrett, and the British Council.