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Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition

by Joseph Asquith

A rendezvous of musicians from across the globe, each striving for chamber music perfection, may seem like an idealistic prospect. But this is indeed the essence of the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. From 1-8 July 2018, sixteen top young ensembles will “dazzle, move and inspire us,” says Artistic Director Wilma Smith.

The 2018 competition will be the first run by Musica Viva Australia under the vision of Smith – an acclaimed violinist and veteran of chamber music in Australia and New Zealand. “It’s very important in the Australian landscape because it’s a major international event,” says Smith. “It puts Australia, and more specifically, Melbourne, on the musical map.”

Smith commenced as Artistic Director of MICMC in 2016, and her background includes leading roles as former Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. She has founded and performed in numerous ensembles, from the award-winning Lydian String Quartet to her very own chamber series, Wilma & Friends. After presenting and performing chamber music for more than 50 years, starting from her school days, Smith uses her expertise and passion to instil inspiration into many a listener.

“We hope to build an audience appreciation for the joy of chamber music by making it as accessible as possible,” Smith says in anticipation of the July competition.

Audiences can choose to tailor their bookings to attend MICMC, purchasing single tickets or full subscription packages that provide a warm welcome into all competition sessions.

On selecting the competitors, Smith says “We were filled with awe at the technical prowess and emotional and musical maturity of many of our young colleagues.”

Smith embarked on the “immensely satisfying” process of selection alongside panel members Zoe Knighton and Timothy Young. Ian Munro, Simin Ganatra, Gerhard Schulz, Yura Lee, Alasdair Tait, and Kyril Zlotnikov form the esteemed jury for the July heats and finals.

In 2018, the chosen ensembles hail from as far as Germany to South Korea and Spain. The string quartets are  the Baum Quartett (South Korea), the Callisto Quartet (USA), the Eliot Quartett, (Austria/Russia/Germany), the Gildas String Quartet (UK), the Goldmund Quartet (Germany), the Idomeneo String Quartet (Belgium/Hungary/ Spain), Quatuor Agate (France) and the Thaleia Quartet (Japan).

The trios are the Amatis Piano Trio (Netherlands/Germany/UK), the Bukolika Piano Trio (Poland), the Clarendon Trio (Australia), the Merz Trio (Australia/USA), the Mosa Trio (Netherlands/Belgium), Trio Gaon (Germany/South Korea), Trio Marvin (Russia/Kazakhstan/Germany) and Trio Sōra (France/Latvia).

It won’t be easy, warns Smith, as the artists undertake a “gruelling schedule of rehearsals and performances necessary to deliver the substantial repertoire at peak form.”

While battling through the heats with chamber music favourites, competitors will also bring their own interpretations to never-before heard works by composers Holly Harrison and Paul Stanhope.

The groups will join an illustrious array of previous competitors, including the Noga Quartet, the St. Petersburg String Quartet, the Gould Piano Trio, the Aviv Quartet, the Atos and Eggner Trios, and the Kelemen Kvartett.

MICMC, founded in 1991 by Marco van Pagee, runs once every four years and promotes young performers from around the globe, enhancing their careers on an international platform.

The Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition takes place from 1-8 July 2018 at ANAM and Melbourne Recital Centre.

Joseph Asquith wrote this piece with information supplied by the competition.  Tickets and further details can be found at www.musicaviva.com.au/competition.


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