Finalists announced for 10th Anniversary Graduation Gala concert

03-Apr-2017 7:59 AM

The University of Auckland is delighted to announce the three finalists in the 2017 Graduation Gala Concerto Competition. They are Sara Lee (piano), Julie Park (viola), and Joella Pinto (violin), all performance students from the School of Music.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the popular free concert, held in the Town Hall, which marks the end of May Graduation at the University of Auckland.

The three finalists were selected from 21 musicians following two preliminary rounds of competition held over two days.
For the upcoming concert and final round, each of the three outstanding musicians will perform in front of an audience of more than 1500 people in a bid to win the first prize of $6,000 as well as the chance to advance their solo careers.

The total prize pool this year is $15,000, with second place receiving $4,000 and third $3,000. There is also an additional development prize of $2,000.
Each finalist will play movements from a concerto accompanied by the University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Professor Uwe Grodd.

Sara Lee will perform the first movement from Tchaikovsky’s much loved first Piano Concerto in B flat minor, Julie Park the outer movements from the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra in G minor by Cecil Forsyth; and Joella Pinto will play the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 by Tchaikovsky.

The winner will be chosen by a judging panel consisting of Associate Professor Helene Pohl, New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington; Professor Terence Dennis, Co-ordinator of Classical Music Performance, University of Otago; and Associate Professor Martin Rummel, Head of School of Music, University of Auckland.

A special feature of this year’s concert will the opening performance by the University of Auckland Massed Choir, directed by Associate Professor Karen Grylls, of Tempus est Iocundum from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.

“The Graduation Gala Concerto Competition showcases some of the School of Music’s most talented performers and provides an opportunity for them to gain experience as soloists”, says Associate Professor Martin Rummel, Head of the School of Music. “The concert is not only a highlight for the Auckland community, but also within the academic life of the University of Auckland. I am happy that the School of Music has been able to make such a significant contribution to the graduation festivities for ten years now and look forward to many more to come.”

The University of Auckland 10th Anniversary Graduation Gala Concerto Competition will be held on Thursday 4 May at the Auckland Town Hall, 303 Queen Street, Auckland Central, at 7.30pm. Admission is free; patrons are strongly advised to arrive early to be assured of admission.
Visit the Graduation Gala website

Sara Lee, piano (teachers: Senior Lecturer Stephen De Pledge and Associate Professor Rae de Lisle)
Sara began her piano studies at the age of six in South Korea with Soo Jung Shin, and moved to Moscow to study with Sergei Dorensky and Mikhail Voskresensky at the Tchaikovsky Music School and Conservatory. Since then, Sara has been a prize winner in many international competitions and scholarships. Highlights include: USA Cincinnati World Piano Competition (Grand Prize), Citta di Barletta in Italy (First Prize), Saint Petersburg Piano Competition (First Prize), Austria International Chopin Piano Competition (Second Prize and Best Performance Prize), Rutgers University Scholarship, Brevard Festival Scholarship, Busoni International Competition. Sara has performed in internationally renowned halls, including Carnegie Hall, Moscow Conservatory Hall, Rachmaninoff Hall at Moscow Conservatory, Kumho Art Hall in South Korea, Wiener Saal of Mozarteum, Konzertsal Handel Karee Haus and Lyon Conservatory Hall in France, UNESCO World Heritage Palazzo Nicolaci. More recently, Sara was selected as Accademia Pianistca Siciliana Artist and embarked on an extensive concert tour of Italy in 2016. She has participated in masterclasses with acclaimed pianists, such as Dimitri Bashkirov, Andrej Jasinski, Pavel Gililov, Boris Giltburg and Epifanio Comis.
Julie Park, viola (teacher: Professional Teaching Fellow Stephen Larsen)
Julie is a former pupil of Westlake Girl’s High School, and now studying towards her Bachelor of Music Honours degree at the University of Auckland with Stephen Larsen. She has held principal positions in the Auckland Youth Orchestra, University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra and the NZSO National Youth Orchestra, as well as performing as a casual member of the APO and the NZSO. She was awarded First in Course Awards for solo and chamber performance and numerous music scholarships, such as the Sagar-Vandewart Scholarship for String Players and the Auckland Centennial Music Festival Scholarship. She performed a concerto with the Baden Baden Philharmonia Orchestra and obtained the Ruth-Flesch-Gedachtnispreis Scholarship Award at the Carl Flesch Akademie International Masterclass in Germany. Julie won the Auckland Chamber Music Society Prize Competition for two consecutive years. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Gisborne International Music Competition and received the Ian Dunsmore Memorial Juror’s Prize.
Joella Pinto, violin (teacher: Senior Lecturer Elizabeth Holowell)
22-year-old Joella Pinto was born in Mumbai, India, and moved to Auckland with her family at the age of eight. She was formerly a student at St Mary’s College in Ponsonby and is currently studying towards a Master of Music degree at the University of Auckland under the tutelage of Elizabeth Holowell. Joella has been the concertmaster of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and the University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra. She has performed professionally with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Manukau Symphony Orchestra and Pipers Sinfonia. Joella has been a prize winner at several competitions around New Zealand on both violin and piano. In 2016, she was a finalist in the Pettman/ROSL Arts Chamber Music Competition, and a semi-finalist at the Gisborne International Music Competition.

The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries comprises Elam School of Fine Arts, the School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.
Miranda Playfair
Media Relations Adviser
Faculty of Creative Arts & Industries
The University of Auckland
Phone: +64 (9) 373 7599 ext 85029
Mobile: +64 21 063 8393

Image: Graduation Gala Concerto Competition finalists (L-R: Joella Pinto, Sara Lee, Julie Park).
A high-resolution image is available on request.
Individual images are also available on request.

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