Our Ad Libitum section continued on Sat 1 June, for the remaining eight Quarter-finalists.
Ad Libitum means “according to pleasure” and, as such, the competitor chooses a work which resonates with them. Each is required to introduce their chosen piece and its (or their) significance to the judging panel and audience. It’s not just a test of skill and artistry, but of presentation skills and creativity.
Australian Victoria Wong (at left) chose Ernst’s Der Erlkönig, expressing its importance to her identity. She says, “I wanted to pick a piece that showed the influence German culture has had on my life. At the age of 15 I moved to Germany by myself. “My understanding of the language was so limited at the time, but nonetheless, I am glad I had the opportunity to live aboard, be immersed in different cultures, different languages, because without that I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Quarter-finalist Cherry Yeung (at right) from Hong Kong played Wieniawski’s Faust Fantasy, Op 20. Both technical and personal reasons surround her choice. “When I first heard the keys, I was really attracted by the lyrical passages in the middle of the piece. The second reason is that it’s my parent’s favourite piece. They’re unfortunately not here today, but they’re probably watching the live stream from Hong Kong, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do,” she said.
Angela Sin Ying Chan (left) from Hong Kong performed Ysaÿe’s Sonata for solo violin in G major Op 27 No 5. She connected the piece with her trip here, “I thought it was very suitable for New Zealand; it’s very nature-like, and there are parts that sound like the sun rising, the wind blowing and leaves falling down from the trees and animals chasing each other.”
Taiwan’s Sophie Wang (right) chose Clara Schumann’s Three Romances for Violin and Piano Op 22. Sophie channelled the human quality of the piece, “The challenge for me is to figure out how to speak, breathe, sing, sigh, how to express this very human passion which Schumann has in her music.”
Multi-talented Jevgēnijs Čepoveckis (left) shook the competition up by performing his Ad Libitum on a viola, performing his own arrangement of Bloch’s Nigun from Baal Shem B 47, arr Viola. “The story is pretty short and pretty weird: I love playing viola in my free time and I’m doing it regularly for the last five years, but I wouldn’t have thought to play the viola at the Michael Hill International Violin competition, until they specifically asked me… And I liked the idea, but the only problem was to find the arrangement of the piece. Unfortunately, I did not succeed in that, so I arranged it myself,” he said.
American Ashley Park (right) chose to play Szymanowski’s Nocturne and Tarantella, Op 28. She tried to choose a piece that would complement and disrupt the repertoire. She says, “We had the intellectual serious component in the Bach, the technical virtuosity of the Paganini and the sweet lyricism in the Elgar. What I thought was missing was some fire and some craziness.” She says, of this piece, “It was believed that by dancing this tarantella you could cure a form of hysteria that was formed by this spider bite. So, imagine this group of hysterical people dancing hysterically to cure their hysteria.”
Matthias Well from Germany (left) brought the house down with two Russian folk songs – “Those were the days” and “I’ve met You | Mama” – accompanied by Queenstown accordionist Mark Wilson, who is blind. Matthias said, “My affinity for folk music derives from both my parents, my father often played a lot of German-Barvarian folk music and I learnt a lot from them” he starts. “But when I went to my Grandfather from my mother’s side who is Hungarian, he frowned and said Matthias that’s not real folk music… I went back to my German side and showed them what I learnt, and they frowned and they said that’s not real folk music So after a while, I got so confused I started to play Russian folk music.Watch the short video here or the full length versions here and here.
American Eric Tsai (right) played Ysaÿe, Sonata for solo violin in D minor Op 27 No 3Ballade to close the afternoon. “I think you can really hear a lot of that inner turmoil, the struggles that each one of us face at some point in our life. When you think about it, that’s really what music is all about. It’s about expressing those struggles; the longing that we have and bringing healing by pointing us upwards to that true beauty and joy that it represents… I hope this next piece will speak to your hearts in a meaningful way,” he said.