Sir Michael fires starter pistol for his Olympics’ of the violin

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Sir Michael Hill believes the bar’s been raised for his international violin competition, starting in Queenstown this weekend. 

Eighteen young violinists contest semi-final rounds on Saturday and Sunday – the top six play another round in Auckland before the finals there on June 11. 

Arrowtown-based jewellery mogul Hill is confident this year’s sixth edition of the biennial competition will be the best. 

“In the past we’ve been very fortunate because we’ve struck someone that’s turned out to be a star. 

“This time they’re all stars – it’s the Olympics of violin playing.” 

The competition’s ranked in the top six violin contests in the world, Hill says. 

And the Queenstown venue is integral, he says. 

“The contestants freak out when they see the place, it also gives them the soul to play better.” 

Guests this year include managers from Chicago’s prestigious Harris Theatre. 

“We get the feeling they’re going to take our winner and get them to play in the Harris Theatre, which will be a huge coup,” Hill says. 

A new feature is commentary throughout the semi-finals from NZTrio violinist Justine Cormack. 

On Monday, the 2009 competition winner, Josef Spacek, plays a concert at The Hills, near Arrowtown, with young Kiwi violinist Ben Morrison. 

Hill says ticket sales in Queenstown and Auckland are well up on last time.