Selection Panel

The Selection Panel, comprised of leading violinists from New Zealand and Australia, will convene in early December to meticulously assess the 2019 Competition applications and select the 16 quarter-finalists that will be invited to compete, live, in New Zealand.

The selection process is held in three rounds, with the identities of the applicants not revealed to the panel until the final round.

Andrew Beer Canada/New Zealand

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Violinist Andrew Beer has been described as a “virtuoso soloist” by the San Francisco Classical Voice, as possessing a “glorious string tone” by Strad Magazine, as a performer displaying “accuracy and subtle charisma” by the Boston Globe, and as a “musical gift” by the New York Times. He has performed extensively throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia, and his performances have been broadcast on NHK Japan, Vietnamese television, CBC Radio-Canada, Minnesota Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio, WQXR New York, Radio NZ Concert FM and ABC Classic FM.

As a soloist, he has performed with leading orchestras in Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Boston, Catania, Auckland and Hamilton with conductors including Gil Rose, Joseph Silverstein, Victor Feldbrill, Eckehard Stier and Giordano Bellincampi. As a chamber musician, he has performed at the Banff, Orford, Domaine Forget, Tanglewood, Aspen, Music@Menlo, Prussia Cove and Akaroa festivals, and has appeared in concert with Grammy-winners Midori, Emerson and Parker String Quartets, and Tui-winners NZ Trio. Contemporary music has played a large role in Andrew’s musical life, and he has worked closely with some of the leading composers of our time on their solo and chamber works, including Pierre Boulez, Mario Davidovsky, György Kurtág and Steve Reich.

Outside his busy performing schedule, Andrew teaches both privately and at the University of Auckland, and has been a guest teacher at Harvard and McGill Universities. He frequently serves as a judge for competitions and scholarship funds throughout New Zealand. Humanitarian and outreach concerts have also played an important role in his musical output, and through such endeavours he was awarded a U.S. Congressional Commendation in 2006.

Born in Vancouver in 1982, Andrew’s principal teachers were Lawrie Hill, Gwen Thompson, Gerald Stanick, Ani Kavafian and Donald Weilerstein. He holds a BA magna cum laude from Stony Brook University and an MM and GD from the New England Conservatory of Music. He served as a performing and teaching fellow at Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School from 2007-2008, and from 2008-2013 held the position of assistant principal 2nd violin with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Andrew has proudly been concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra since 2014, and has performed as guest concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Andrew performs on a J.B. Vuillaume violin from 1845, and a J.J. Martin bow from 1880.

Suyeon Kang (Korea/Australia)

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Korean-Australian violinist Suyeon Kang, praised for her innate sensitivity and compelling performances, is active in the many avenues of classical music.

In 2015 she was awarded 1st prize at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition as well as securing the audience prize. Other international competition successes include major and/or special prizes at the Princess Astrid, Indianapolis, Bayreuth, Buenos Aires; Yehudi Menuhin; and the Leopold Mozart international violin competitions. At the age of 16, shortly before relocating to Germany, she was named the Grand Prize winner of the Symphony Australia Young Performer’s Awards. She has performed as soloist with numerous European and Australian orchestras.

Alongside her solistic endeavours she is a passionate chamber musician, being the co-founder and violinist of the Boccherini String Trio. In 2014 she was selected to participate in the prestigious ‘Chamber Music Connects the World’ in Kronberg, Germany, and has collaborated with a range of prominent artists in festivals and concerts throughout Europe. In 2017 she joined the Kallaci String Quartet (South Korea) as their newest member.

She has appeared as guest concertmistress/leading orchestral positions with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, Kammerakademie Potsdam, Ensemble Resonanz Hamburg, amongst others. Since 2017 she is a member of Camerata Bern (Switzerland) and since 2016 is teaching assistant to Prof. Antje Weithaas at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin.

Wilma Smith

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Former Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wilma was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand.

She studied at Auckland University then in Boston at the New England Conservatory with the legendary Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner before becoming first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music and multiple prizes at the Evian, Banff and Portsmouth International String Quartet Competitions. The quartet was her professional focus in Boston but she also worked regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was Concertmaster of the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and Handel and Haydn Society.

Invited to return home to form the New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma was first violinist for five years until the NZSO appointed her Concertmaster in 1993, a position she held for nine years until taking up the same position with the MSO from 2003 to 2014. In addition to her chamber music series, Wilma & Friends, now in its seventh season, Wilma has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with SSO, WASO, TSO, ASO, OV and APO, and teaches at Melbourne and Monash Universities, Scotch College and Korowa Anglican Girls School. In 2016, she was appointed Artistic Director of the Melbourne Chamber Music Competitions by Musica Viva.

Vesa-Matti Leppänen (Finland)

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Born and raised in Turku, Finland, Vesa-Matti Leppänen moved to New Zealand in 2000. He was appointed NZSO Concertmaster 12 years ago and has earned international recognition for his musicianship as a chamber musician, teacher, jurist, and soloist. He has performed as soloist with all the major orchestras in New Zealand. With the NZSO he has performed Sibelius, Lalo, Mozart and Bach concertos as well as works by leading New Zealand composers. As a soloist with the NZSO he has also recorded works by Lyell Cresswell and Ken Young.

Internationally, Leppänen has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia, China, Japan, Philippines and Scandinavia. In 2005 he led the NZSO on its European/Japanese Tour and again in 2010 including unforgettable performances in the Musikverein in Vienna and Lucerne Festival Hall. On both of those tours he was also featured as a soloist. He has worked alongside internationally renowned soloists Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Pinchas Zukerman and Janine Jansen, to name a few. He has also appeared as guest concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, Tasmanian Symphony and Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. He’s also a member of Irons/Leppanen/Joyce piano trio, which performs regularly Leppänen teaches at the New Zealand School of Music and has given masterclasses and coached the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and the Asian Youth Orchestra. He is also been a regular International Jury member in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition.

Dr Robin Wilson

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Born and raised in Turku, Finland, Vesa-Matti Leppänen moved to New Zealand in 2000. He was appointed NZSO Concertmaster 12 years ago and has earned international recognition for his musicianship as a chamber musician, teacher, jurist, and soloist. He has performed as soloist with all the major orchestras in New Zealand. With the NZSO he has performed Sibelius, Lalo, Mozart and Bach concertos as well as works by leading New Zealand composers. As a soloist with the NZSO he has also recorded works by Lyell Cresswell and Ken Young.

Internationally, Leppänen has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia, China, Japan, Philippines and Scandinavia. In 2005 he led the NZSO on its European/Japanese Tour and again in 2010 including unforgettable performances in the Musikverein in Vienna and Lucerne Festival Hall. On both of those tours he was also featured as a soloist. He has worked alongside internationally renowned soloists Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Pinchas Zukerman and Janine Jansen, to name a few. He has also appeared as guest concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, Tasmanian Symphony and Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. He’s also a member of Irons/Leppanen/Joyce piano trio, which performs regularly Leppänen teaches at the New Zealand School of Music and has given masterclasses and coached the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and the Asian Youth Orchestra. He is also been a regular International Jury member in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition.

 

 

 

 

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