Top fiddlers for festival

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A former Michael Hill Inter­national Violin Competition winner and a world-renowned violin teacher headline a Queenstown chamber music festival next month.

German-based Chinese-born Feng Ning, who won the 2005 Michael Hill competition, and Austrian-based Israeli-born Professor Yair Kless will perform at St Peter’s Church on January 18, one of six festival events.

The inaugural festival is being held in conjunction with the eighth annual Queenstown Violin Summer School, where the pair will be tutors.

Kless is “one of the most highly respected violin teachers in the world”, QVSS artistic director Kevin Lefohn says.

Among Kless’s former pupils is regular QVSS tutor and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppanen.

And Lefohn suggests Feng Ning, who also won the 2006 Paganini International Violin Competition, is the most outstanding violinist to win local jewellery magnate Hill’s biennial violin competition – “he’s one of those guys you just can’t get enough of”.

The chamber music festival starts with a concert by former QVSS alumni on January 12, follows with a recital by the celebrated NZTrio on January 16 and concludes with concerts featuring QVSS students on January 21-22.

This year’s summer school has 26 advanced violin students aged eight to 25, including a record seven from overseas – Australia, Malaysia and Brunei.

Lefohn: “Bringing Feng Ning and Professor Kless has brought up the whole profile of the school internationally.”

Students pay $1800 a head but the two-week school’s also supported by private and corporate sponsorship as well as several trusts and arts organisations.