New Zealand’s Most Prestigious International Music Competition Returns

The violins are back! After a four-year COVID hiatus, New Zealand’s globally regarded Michael Hill International Violin Competition returns in June 2023.

Violin and classical music lovers haven’t been able to experience the thrilling, formerly biennial (now triennial) event since 2019. Considered an ‘Olympics of the violin world’, 16 of the very best 18- to 26-year-old violinists from all over the world battle it out in Queenstown, and then Auckland. Their goal? To be selected by the prestigious international judging panel as the top three to perform in the judged grand final concert with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra at Auckland’s Town Hall on 10 June, and then win the coveted prize that will launch their career.

Entries open on 1 September. Young violinists from across the globe will now be fervently preparing theirs. Organisers expect a flood of entries this year, from which 16 quarter-finalists will be brought to Aotearoa for the event, which is generously supported by the Hill Family Foundation for Arts and Music.

“COVID cruelly hijacked many opportunities for high-performance musicians for the last few years. The Michael Hill’s revival is greatly appreciated, and international violinists will be clamoring for the sought-after invitation to come to New Zealand. Audiences missing the intense, yet intimate Queenstown rounds and the roof-lifting Grand Finale in the Auckland Town Hall can plan now to witness the star-making thrill in June,” says Anne Rodda, Executive Director.

“Along with its new triennial schedule, requirements this year have been refreshed, with the purpose being to support the Michael Hill’s kaupapa of building the best whole musicians in the world – violinists who play brilliantly but are also versatile. This means judges will be studying their technique and abilities, and also their audience engagement, musical storytelling, and communication skills. The Michael Hill takes very seriously the responsibility of setting the world’s best violinists on their career paths in the best way possible,” Rodda says.

The prestigious international judging panel in 2023 includes a who’s-who line-up that purposefully celebrates the impressive history of the Competition. In addition to its past winners, Bulgarian-American violinist Bella Hristova (2007), Chinese Ning Feng (2005) and Russian born, Kiwi raised Natalia Lomeiko (2003), Wilma Smith (NZ/AU) and pianist Piers Lane (UK) will be joined by legends James Ehnes (Canada) and Anthony Marwood (UK.

There is an innovative digital section in 2023 that acknowledges the environment in which young players must now perform in. The New Zealand-commissioned work will be a solo-violin piece performed with a static digital recording. A first for the competition, which is boldly leading this approach amongst international music competitions.

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, the 2019 Winner Anna Im and New Zealand’s Benjamin Baker.

The winner of the Michael Hill receives NZ$40,000, a recording contract with the Atoll label, and a multi-centre Winners Tour with Chamber Music New Zealand. This is all made possible through the generosity of the Hill Family, along with major supporters Craigs Investment Partners, Chiron Group and Michael Hill International. Also up for grabs is a special prize of a three-year loan of a fine violin by Rare Violins of New York.

Tickets will be on sale from February through Ticketmaster in Auckland and Eventfinda in Queenstown, but astute concertgoers who want to ensure their seats, can book the Auckland rounds earlier, through the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Chamber Music NZ’s season subscriptions.

For more information, please visit or the Competition’s Facebook page.


For media information, images and interviews, please contact Siobhan Waterhouse on +64 22 126 4149,