New Zealand violinist breaks eight year drought

Christchurch-born violinist Nathalie Lin
Christchurch-born violinist Nathalie Lin

Christchurch-born violinist Natalie Lin has been named one of 18 semi-finalists in the prestigious Michael Hill International Violin Competition for 2013. It's been eight years since a New Zealander last made it into the competition's semi-finals.

The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is one of the top violin competitions in the world and has been held biennially since 2001. The competition takes place in June 2013 with two rounds in Queenstown before six violinists are selected for the third round in Auckland, after which the top three compete in the final.

A second New Zealand musician, Benjamin Morrison, also from Christchurch, is the second alternate for the competition. Morrison won the New Zealand Development Prize in 2011 and will compete if two of the final 18 cannot make the competition.

Twenty-three year old Lin (23) who lives in the USA, where she is pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Joel Smirnoff and Ivan Zenat says she she is looking forward to playing before her home audience. "I hope to inspire other young kiwis pursue their own talents and dreams," she adds.

The semi-finalists were selected by an adjudication panel from 125 applications representing 27 nationalities and 12 nationalities are represented among the 18 semi-finalists: Arthur (Nikki) Chooi (Canada), Sarah Christian (Germany), Dalia Dedinskaite (Lithuania), Ekaterina Frolova (Russia), Ioana Goicea (Romania), Da Sol Jeong (Canada), Jae Hyeong Lee (South Korea), Seul-A Lee (South Korea), Natalie Lin (New Zealand), Boson Mo (Canada), Yu-Ah Ok (South Korea), Sujin Park (Australia), Georg Pfirsch (Germany), Mari Poll (Estonia), David Radzynski (USA), Eugenia Ryabinina (Belgium), Stephen Tavani (USA) and Yuqing Zhang (China).

The winner of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition 2013 receives $40,000 cash, a recording on the Atoll label and a 2014 winner's tour with Chamber Music New Zealand, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and further performances such as with the Harris Theater in Chicago, USA.

Lin has performed as a soloist with orchestras including the New Zealand Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand), Erie Philharmonic and the Taichung City Symphony (Taiwan). In 2011, she gave a performance of Britten Violin Concerto at Cleveland's Severance Hall with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. The 2011-12 season also brought her performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, as well as to England as a Britten-Pears Young Artist.

Lin began studies at age four with the Suzuki method, winning her first competition at age six in an under-18 recital division contest in Auckland. In 2004, she was recognized as the "Auckland Philharmonia Young Performer of the Year." While in high school, she cultivated a love for chamber music, winning the prestigious New Zealand Chamber Music Contest with her piano quartet in 2005, and directing her high school chamber orchestra from the concertmaster chair in 2006.

After moving to the USA in 2007, Ms Lin won the Concerto Competitions at both the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Houston. At the 2009 Young Texas Artist Competition, she was awarded 1st prize in the string division and the Audience Choice award. Most recently, she won 4th prize at the 2012 Irving Klein International Strings Competition and 2nd prize in the 2011 Violin Concerto competition at the Aspen Music Festival. Lin has been featured several times on Houston Public Radio's program, "The Front Row," as well as on Radio New Zealand's Concert FM. She is a founding member of the MO Quartet, which formed in Aspen in 2011. As a chamber musician, she has also collaborated with Paul Kantor, Jeffrey Irvine, Kyung Sun Lee, and with her sister, violinist Christabel Lin.

Fairfax Media