Semi-final Round III – Wednesday 5th June & Thursday 6th June – Melancholic Mozart and Rare Violins

Judges at the Michael Hill Violin Competition 2019 Photo: Andi Crown

The Michael Hill Competition entourage has hit the ground running in Auckland. There have been visits to schools and masterclasses with members of the adjudication panel including Grammy Award-winning James Ehnes, Professor Mauricio Fuks and child prodigy turned elegant super-star, Clara-Jumi Kang.

With more than twenty thousand followers on Instagram, Clara-Jumi is very popular with young violinists, some of whom were thrilled to get her autograph during the quarter-finals.

Violinist Clara-Jumi Kang Photo: Supplied MHIVC 2019

My hotel room is right next door to Clara-Jumi’s and when she’s not out teaching aspiring violinists or adjudicating then she’s busy practising. Lucky for me she’s a brilliant violinist and considerately uses her mute after 10pm.

We’re in the thick of the chamber music round where the six semi-finalists have 90 minutes to rehearse a Mozart string quintet of their choosing before performing it that night. It’s a chamber music pressure cooker!

The contestant takes the first violin part and they are partnered by some of NZ’s leading musicians: violinist Andrew Beer, violists Julia Joyce and Gillian Ansell and cellist Ashley Brown.

Out of Mozart’s four final quintets most of the competitors have opted to play the melancholic Quintet in G minor K 516. This is widely recognized as his most emotionally charged, written when the composer was worried about his seriously ill father.

The Michael Hill International Violin Competition has created an exciting new prize for the 2019 competition, the Arancio Prize. One lucky semi-finalist will receive a two-year loan of a rare instrument crafted by Nicolo Amati, one of the triumverate of lauded Cremonese violin-makers (Amati, Guarnerius, Stradivarius).

This particular instrument, dating from 1645, is known as the “Ex Christian Ferras”, in recognition of the fabulous twentieth-century French violinist who played it. Here he is getting stuck into the devilish Hora Staccato.

One of the challenges facing many young violinists today is gaining access to a suitable instrument, most of which are so expensive they are owned by investors rather than artists. That’s where Rare Violins of New York In Consortium comes in. The Consortium works to link benefactors and their instruments with deserving musicians, and with their support one lucky semi-finalist will walk away with the “Ex Christian Ferras” Amati violin.

Ziv Arazi and Bruno Price from Rare Violins of New York with Music Alive host Clarissa Dunn Photo: Geoffrey John Davies

Ziv Arazi and Bruno Price from Rare Violins of New York have arrived in the country. As well as listening to all the talent they’re also set to debate with luthier Dick Panting on the subject of ‘Are Older Violins Better?’.

You can hear that talk at 7pm on Saturday night, just before the Final round of the Michael Hill contest at 7:30 – on air and streaming online from our website and Facebook page.

Join us!