Last post for violin pupils


The founder of the cash-strapped Queens­­town Violin Summer School is in town trying to pull enough strings to save it.

And if he can’t find funding in Queenstown this week, he’ll be forced to shift the school elsewhere.

Artistic director Kevin Lefohn says the internationally-recognised school, due to run over two weeks in January for the seventh time, faces a shortfall of at least $25,000.

After four years of giving grants, government body Creative New Zealand unexpectedly rejected an application for $20,000 because of extra funding demands.

Christchurch-based Lefohn, who calls this “a major financial blow”, says the economic downtown has caused a serious decline in other income sources.

“The need to fund a solution is extremely urgent.”

The school – run by the Southern Strings Charitable Trust – provides advanced training by international violinists for 25 students, mainly New Zealanders, who pay $1725 for tuition, accommodation and meals.

Lefohn says at that rate he can’t charge the students any more.

The 50-odd people who come to town with the school each year “are creating something that adds to the community in terms of arts and culture and tourists coming through” – the students also put on a public concert.

Lefohn, who says he was inspired by Queenstown’s sister city Aspen to start the summer school, says he’d like to grow it into an international chamber music festival.