With the goal of raising awareness for fine music and to inspire the highest standard of musical performance in Aotearoa, we offer a new ‘mini festival’ – the Auckland String Sessions – to take place in Auckland alongside the final stages of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition.
Presented in partnership with the University of Auckland and with programme curation from the New Zealand String Quartet’s Helene Pohl, the Auckland String Sessions will run from Wednesday 7 until Saturday 10 June.
Across four action-packed days, Kiwi musicians, parents, students, and their teachers will have the chance to attend free workshops and masterclasses with some of the classical world’s finest exponents including members of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition jury panel, visiting competitors, collaborating artists such as the New Zealand String Quartet, NZTrio and associates of the University of Auckland School of Music and Chiron Group.
Wednesday 7 June
AFTERNOON | CLASSROOM CONVERSATIONS | SELECTED AUCKLAND HIGH SCHOOLS
Michael Hill Violin Competition Competitors and Fellows will be out visiting local high schools around Tāmaki Makaurau to lead interactive workshops with student performers and teaching staff.
7.30PM – TICKETED EVENT | COMPETITION SEMI-FINALS – ROUND III | AUCKLAND TOWN HALL CONCERT CHAMBER
The first ‘session’ of ROUND III features three of the six advancing semi-finalists. This stage of the competition challenges the competitors to display their impeccable artistry and leadership skills when, on just 90 minutes’ rehearsal, they must lead one of Mozart’s sublime string quintets with eminent NZ musicians Amalia Hall, Gillian Ansell, Robert Ashworth and Ashley Brown.
Thursday 8 June
10.00 – 12.00 NOON | MASTERCLASS WITH NATALIA LOMEIKO | MUSIC THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
12.00 – 2.00 PM | MASTERCLASS WITH ANTHONY MARWOOD | MUSIC THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Attend these masterclass sessions and enjoy unique coaching insights from these internationally renowned violinists and members of the Michael Hill 2023 Jury Panel – Anthony Marwood (UK) and Natalia Lomeiko (NZ/UK).
Invited students will each receive a lesson from a master performer in a public yet relaxed and supportive environment. Those in attendance will also reap the benefits of hearing and observing these masters in action.
These masterclass sessions are free to attend and ideal for any musician, including students, parents and string instrument teachers.
7.30PM – TICKETED EVENT | COMPETITION SEMI-FINALS – ROUND III | AUCKLAND TOWN HALL CONCERT CHAMBER
The second ‘session’ of ROUND III features performances by the remaining three of the six advancing semi-finalists. This stage of the competition challenges the competitors to display their impeccable artistry and leadership skills when, on just 90 minutes’ rehearsal, they must lead one of Mozart’s sublime string quintets with eminent NZ musicians Amalia Hall, Gillian Ansell, Robert Ashworth and Ashley Brown.
Friday 9 June
The University of Auckland School of Music opens its doors to host a full day of professional development workshops.
These sessions are FREE to attend and will be particularly beneficial for private and itinerant music teachers looking to gain deeper insights and techniques to apply in their own teaching practice.
ALL DAY/ DROP-IN | STRING INSTRUMENT MAKERS & RETAILERS IN RESIDENCE | ROOM #114 – MUSIC DEPT, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Drop-in for a casual chat with some of New Zealand’s own acclaimed luthiers. Learn about the art of instrument making, instrument care and restoration, and discuss the range of historic/ imported and NZ-made instruments, bows and bespoke items currently available for sale in Aotearoa.
10.00 – 11.30AM | COACHING STUDENT ENSEMBLES – BEST PRACTICE IN ACTION | MUSIC THEATRE and adjacent rooms, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
What are the magical ingredients of a compelling chamber music performance? The New Zealand String Quartet has been honing the art of chamber music performance and coaching since 1987.
Attendees will be able to observe members of the NZSQ coaching student chamber ensembles for the first hour, followed by the opportunity to “lift the lid” on their own teaching processes in an audience Q&A session between 11.00 and 11.30am.
The above session will be a ‘not to be missed’ opportunity for any student instrumentalist, music teacher and chamber music coach.
12.00 – 2.00PM | MARRYING TEACHING WITH PERFORMING | ROOM #115 – MUSIC DEPT, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Michael Hill Jury member and internationally respected kiwi violinist, Wilma Smith, will lead an inclusive discussion about the symbiosis of teaching and performing and the fundamental importance of the practice of listening. You are encouraged to come with your questions for Wilma on any topic.
This will be a ‘not to be missed’ session for any student instrumentalist or practicing instrument teacher.
2.30 – 3.30PM | INSTRUMENT CARE AND ACQUISITION TIPS with RARE VIOLINS OF NEW YORK | THE HARPSICHORD ROOM – MUSIC DEPT, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Ziv Azari co-founder of Rare Violins of New York, has come to New Zealand as a guest of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. While staying Ziv has generously agreed to present this seminar and share some of his own insights from a career built as both a performer and for the last 21 years, as one of the most respected instrument dealers in the world.
This seminar will help budding musicians and their families learn the tips and tricks to look out for when purchasing that ‘next’ level of instrument, as well as valuable care and maintenance advice to ensure your instrument develops and ages in an optimum way.
4.00 – 6.00PM | MASTERCLASS WITH NING FENG | WESTLAKE GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL
It is a tremendous honour to have Ning Feng, Michael Hill winner 2005 and current jury member return to New Zealand. In this masterclass session, Ning will work with invited students from the Chiron School of Music, a once in a lifetime experience for these young musicians and an invaluable learning opportunity for audience members too. (NB. this masterclass will take place at Westlake Girls High School)
Attendance at this session is highly recommended for any aspiring young string players and their parents, enthusiastic adult amateurs and all teaching professionals.
7.30PM – TICKETED EVENT | RECITAL WITH NING FENG, NZ TRIO and SARAH WATKINS | WESTLAKE GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL
A stunning programme featuring NZ Trio performing Kenji Bunch’s Groovebox, Rachel Element (NZ) Shifting States and Alfred Schnittke’s strikingly classical Piano Trio.
The second half features none other than Ning Feng playing solo Bach, and Piazzola’s Piano Trio with Michael Hill collaborating artists, Sarah Watkins and Ashley Brown.
Saturday 10 June
The learning and the music-making that has made up our four-day mini music festival – the Auckland String Sessions – culminates today, helping to build anticipation ahead of the Finale performance of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition this same evening.
9.00 – 10.00AM | SUZUKI WORKSHOP | MUSIC THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Suzuki students and teachers are invited to bring their instruments and join Helene Pohl from the New Zealand String Quartet and Suzuki-trained Michael Hill fellows and international competitors in an active session of music making. Repertoire will include the Bach Double Violin Concerto mvt 1, Dvořák Humoresque and selected pieces from Suzuki Books 1 & 2.
This FREE workshop offers will give young Suzuki students the chance to meet and chat with the advanced competitors and fellowship members participating in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition who also began their musical training with the Suzuki method.
10.15 – 12.15 PM | MASTERCLASS WITH JAMES EHNES | MUSIC THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Acclaimed soloist and current jury member James Ehnes will work with Michael Hill Competitors and advanced students from the University of Auckland in a supportive open masterclass environment.
This session will offer captivating insights into performance techniques and interpretation, an invaluable learning opportunity for musicians, teachers and any music enthusiast who loves to dive deeper into great classical repertoire.
4.00PM – TICKETED EVENT | AUCKLAND STRINGS SESSIONS SHOWCASE | AUCKLAND TOWN HALL
A celebration performance to end this ‘mini festival’ of learning, sharing and musical exploration – Not to mention the perfect ‘appetiser’ to the Finale of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition later in the evening!!
Starring Michael Hill judges, Bella Hristova and Piers Lane, alongside the New Zealand String Quartet, Michael Hill competitors and fellowship recipients. Also joining them on stage will be dozens of New Zealand’s own emerging musical talents – faces we can look forward to seeing on our stages for many years to come.
The programme headlines Bella Hristova performing the Haydn Violin Concerto along with chamber works by Vivaldi, Leonie Holmes, Prokofiev and the sumptuous Franck Piano Quintet. Also on show is a brand new work by emerging New Zealand Composer Yvonne New, specially commissioned for this event.
7:30pm – TICKETED EVENT | GRAND FINALE | AUCKLAND TOWN HALL
This is the Grand Finale, the culmination of 10 days of intense scrutiny and three high pressure rounds of performances that have challenged every facet of these young violinists’ skill sets.
The final three competitors will now take to the stage of the Auckland Town Hall to perform their concertos with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Litton.
Known for launching careers, the Finale performance of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition is always a spectacular night of exhilarating virtuosity.
Be there to witness the announcement of the overall 2023 winner and be prepared to cast your own vote for the coveted Audience Prize too!