Michael Hill is doing his bit to drag more culture into our backyard.
Starting this Saturday, jewellery magnate Michael Hill will host about nine mainly classical music concerts each year at the clubhouse on The Hills, his private golf course near Arrowtown.
Hill, a competent fiddler known locally for his international violin competition, says the Wakatipu is a cultural “leper club”.
New Zealand trios, quartets and other small classical groups completely bypass Queenstown, he says.
“We’re not on any circuits at the moment, not a bloody thing.
“They’ll go to all the little towns, they’ll go to Invercargill, to Wanaka, but nothing comes here – or very, very little.
“Even Alexandra gets more concerts than we get here.
“Bugger it all, I’m going to do something to get culture going on, otherwise we’ll be a backwater forever.”
Hill backs his award-winning clubhouse as a boutique concert venue for a 70-strong audience, saying it’s acoustically engineered with an inspiring outlook.
“And I’ve got this nice Steinway grand piano, it just sits there – I’d like it played.”
Saturday’s concert features the Jade String Quartet from Auckland, including “livewire” violinist Miranda Adams.
“They’re playing some stuff that is quite hippy as well,” Hill says.
“I might even play a number.”
The $65 ticket price includes canapes and a glass of bubbly – doors open at 5.30pm.
Next in the concert series comes the celebrated NZ Trio on November 13.
“We’re really set up that someone great will want to come – there’s a famous opera singer I can get here,” Hill adds.
“We can bring all sorts of arts and drama here, a whole kaleidoscope.”
The multi-millionaire jeweller won’t accept the argument that Queenstown’s predominantly young, adventure-focused population isn’t a good fit for classical music.
“Aspen [Colorado] is just full of young people, skiers, God knows what, and the place is just humming with culture.”