With the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition currently underway in Auckland, New Zealand, VC recently caught up with Executive Director Ms Anna Rodda - to discuss the competition’s new compulsory Quartet Final ‘ad libitum’ component.
In a VC exclusive blog, Anne discusses the new initiative - designed to garner a better understanding of the live candidates' wider musical personality and communication skills.
“Kiwis have always been pioneers – for example, we were the first to give women the vote back in 1893 and we have what is widely known as a “Number 8 wire” mentality, which has origins in New Zealand’s resourcefulness in farming (Number 8 is a fencing wire). The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is proud to be embracing that pioneering spirit by adding the unique Ad Libitum section in the 2017 Competition.
The Michael Hill International Violin Competition is the first string competition to include an Ad Libitum section, an innovation that came about when we re-evaluted the whole Competition in late 2015. We looked at what’s required of a performer in this day and age, and then asked ourselves how we could find out if an instrumentalist had those particular attributes. We realised the Competition was missing an opportunity for instrumentalists to convey their wider musical personality and communication skills, and the Ad Libitum section was developed by our Artistic Advisor Dene Olding to fill that gap.
Ad Libitum means ‘according to pleasure’ and this section gives competitors the opportunity to demonstrate to the judges and audiences a work that particularly resonates with them, demonstrates a particular talent or enthusiasm, or something in which they truly excel, in short, something that gives pleasure to the performer and the audience. Competitors are also required to introduce their choice from the stage, giving the jury insight into their communication skills and personality as a musician.
“By giving competitors a free choice of repertoire in the Ad Libitum section, the competitors can exhibit a facet of their musicianship that might not normally show itself in standard competition repertoire,” says Olding. “As they introduce and justify their selection to the audience, we gain some insight into their thinking and musical thought processes, while the spoken introductions add another dimension to the musical presentations and humanise the occasion.”
“We live in a world that is saturated with fine players all trying to forge meaningful careers,” Olding says. “In the competitive and technologically complex market in which our winners will find themselves, it has become evident that the artist must recognise and embrace the need to be a skilled performer and communicator as well as a fine musician.” A Michael Hill winner will be an individual who:
- Displays the highest level of artistry and prowess
- Possesses intelligence, charisma and a personality suited to the demands of the professional musical world
- Exhibits unique personal and musical qualities which will allow their talent to shine through in a crowded market
- Is versatile and adaptable to a wide range of musical situations and styles
- Possesses the ability, stamina, and perseverance to sustain a long and meaningful career
We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from audiences while Pamela Frank, one of our international Jurors and the Chair of the Yehudi Mehuhin International Competition says, “The Ad Libitum added another dimension to the Competition, giving insight into the competitors as human beings. Now I can’t imagine a competition without it.”
The response from our 2017 competitors has been marvellous, with many bold and inventive choices. It’s particularly gratifying to see competitors using the opportunity to act as ambassadors by presenting contemporary works from their home countries, a hugely important role for international artists. All the Ad Libitum performances are available on demand at www.violincompetition.com, a wonderful celebration of our 2017 quarter-finalists’ musicianship.