Cultural hero Michael Hill presents Russian violinist with competition prize

Russian violinist Sergey Malov has won the Michael Hill International Violin Competition after the final round of the competition which lasted for eight days. As well as winning a cheque of NZ$40,000, a recording with Atoll, and a tour with Chamber Music New Zealand in 2012, he also picked up the inaugural Julian Anderson Award of NZ$2,000 as best chamber music player.

On the final night of the competition he was also the audience favourite, winning the Michael Hill Audience Prize, which was decided by text voting.

The competition was extraordinarily strong with Malov only just heading off runner-up Richard Lin who was rakishly turned out in a golden suit, every inch an Elvis impersonator, playing the popular Brahms Violin concerto.

Malov took on the much more adventurous and demanding Bartok Violin Concerto which showed off his technical and emotional control.

He demonstrated an intelligent focus on the music and appeared to have an understanding of his role as not only soloist but also his connection with the conductor and orchestra.

He was at all times intently aware of the various members of the orchestra and it was them he first acknowledged, rather than the audience, at the conclusion of his performance.

"I just feel absolutely amazing," he said afterwards. "It's fantastic. I think winning was a sum of so many things - I was the oldest competitor and everything came together at the right time for me."

Sergey said he was looking forward to returning to New Zealand next year and touring with Chamber Music New Zealand. "I've had a fantastic time here and it will be wonderful to return."

Runner-up was Richard Lin (19) of Taiwan/USA followed by third place getter Xiang Yu (22) of China. Nadir Khashimov of Uzbekistan/United States was awarded fourth place with Eric Silberger (United States) in fifth place and Stefani Collins (United States) in sixth place. Second through sixth place getters receive from NZ$10,000 to NZ$1,000.

The prize for the Best Performance of the NZ commission work (John Psathas’ Gyftiko) was won by Richard Lin during the semi final rounds in Queenstown last week. As a special award, Anastasia Agapova of Russia has been lent a contemporary Cremonese violin by master craftsman Riccardo Bergonzi for the next two years.

Christchurch musician Ben Morrison was also acknowledged and was awarded the competition’s NZ Development Prize and has spent the past week accompanying and observing the competition’s proceedings, participating in the masterclasses given by the international judges, and performing with 2009 winner Josef Špaček at a special recital in Queenstown.

Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson congratulated all contestants in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition and shared his dream that "one day we will have a young classical violinist from Otara on this stage and winning this contest".
Mr Finlayson said the recent launch of the El Sistema youth orchestra programme in Otara was a stepping stone towards this dream.

“To realise the dream we are dependent on cultural philanthropy and Sir Michael and Lady Christine Hill and Sir James Wallace are the real heroes and heroines of New Zealand.”

A total of 18 leading young violinists world competed in the prestigious contest which began on June 4, with the semi-finalists performing demanding programmes of solo and piano-accompanied works in Queenstown, followed by the chamber music round and final in Auckland.

The competition is judged by an international panel including Michael Dauth (Germany/Australia), Boris Garlitsky (Russia/UK), Mark Kaplan (USA), Cho-Liang Lin (Taiwan/USA), Tasmin Little (UK), Vesa-Matti Leppänen (Finland/NZ) and Lara St John (Canada). The panel is chaired by New Zealander Dr Robin Congreve.
The contest originally drew entries from 136 applicants representing 29 nationalities from which the 18 semi-finalists were selected. The competition provides the semi-finalists with airfares to New Zealand.