NZ musician in first win for viola

For the first time in 26 years a viola player made the finals at the Gisborne International Music Competition (GIMC), and when Alexander McFarlane was announced the winner on Saturday night it was the first time in the competition’s history a violist took first prize. The 22-year-old New Zealander began his musical career as a violinist until his teacher saw his “inner violist” and encouraged him to take up the viola, said GIMC manager Mark La Roche.
The standard of the semi-final was exceptionally high this year, he said shortly before the finals began on Saturday.
“I heard some phenomenal performances. In fact, the overall standard of the competition this year is such that the significance of making the semi-final, or winning a prize, has increased exponentially.” Pictures by Rebecca Grunwell
Australian musician Oliver Schermacher was the first clarinettist in 22 years to make the Gisborne International Music Competition finals. His performance of boundary-pushing works took him to second place.
US violinist Hahnsol Kim’s energetic but focused performance earned him third place in the week long event.


NEW Zealand viola player Alexander McFarlane won the $10,000 first prize at the Gisborne International Music Competition finals at the War Memorial Theatre on Saturday night.

This was the first time in 26 years a violist has made the final three in the internationally-renowned Gisborne competition, and the first time in the 29-year history that a violist has won.

McFarlane’s musicianship was honed by his experience as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral performer. He has previously performed at London’s Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall and St Martin-in-the-Fields.

More than 20 years has also passed since a clarinettist featured among finalists in the competition.

On Saturday, clarinettist Oliver Schermacher’s expressive performance of a programme that included Jorg Widmann’s strange and exciting work Fantasie, and Clarinettologia, Gaspare Tirincanti’s wave to jazz player Charlie Parker, earned the Australian musician second place and $5000.

For his performance of works such as Camille Saint-Saens’ Caprice d’apres l’Etude en forme de Valse, US violinist Hahnsol Kim came third and was awarded $3000.

The GIMC’s week long programme attracted 25 international and 23 New Zealand musicians and was nothing if not intensive.

Even before entrants arrived, Mr La Roche and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s community engagement programme co-ordinator Cathy Irons were part of a three-day residency at Cobham School that culminated in a concert.

The programme was such a success the school has since appointed a part-time music teacher.

On Thursday GIMC entrants performed at Dunblane resthome while others ran tutorials at Gisborne Girls’ High School and Makauri School.

Four brass players performed a lunchtime concert at St Andrew’s Church and on Saturday musicians presented A Concert Under the Leaves at Marina Park.

Somewhere in between, performers had the adventure of their lives when they fed stingrays at Tatapouri.

NEW Zealand viola player Alexander McFarlane won the $10,000 first prize at the Gisborne International Music Competition finals at the War Memorial Theatre on Saturday night.

This was the first time in 26 years a violist has made the final three in the internationally-renowned Gisborne competition, and the first time in the 29-year history that a violist has won.

McFarlane’s musicianship was honed by his experience as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral performer. He has previously performed at London’s Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall and St Martin-in-the-Fields.

More than 20 years has also passed since a clarinettist featured among finalists in the competition.

On Saturday, clarinettist Oliver Schermacher’s expressive performance of a programme that included Jorg Widmann’s strange and exciting work Fantasie, and Clarinettologia, Gaspare Tirincanti’s wave to jazz player Charlie Parker, earned the Australian musician second place and $5000.

For his performance of works such as Camille Saint-Saens’ Caprice d’apres l’Etude en forme de Valse, US violinist Hahnsol Kim came third and was awarded $3000.

The GIMC’s week long programme attracted 25 international and 23 New Zealand musicians and was nothing if not intensive.

Even before entrants arrived, Mr La Roche and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s community engagement programme co-ordinator Cathy Irons were part of a three-day residency at Cobham School that culminated in a concert.

The programme was such a success the school has since appointed a part-time music teacher.

On Thursday GIMC entrants performed at Dunblane resthome while others ran tutorials at Gisborne Girls’ High School and Makauri School.

Four brass players performed a lunchtime concert at St Andrew’s Church and on Saturday musicians presented A Concert Under the Leaves at Marina Park.

Somewhere in between, performers had the adventure of their lives when they fed stingrays at Tatapouri.

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