The Con's trifecta for Australia's richest violin prize

14 April 2014

Three finalists competing in the final round of Australia's richest violin competition this week in Melbourne, staged by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne, are all former students of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Doretta Balkizas, Anne-Marie Johnson and Emily Sun will appear at the Melbourne Recital Centre in a gala concert as they perform their chosen concertos with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Thursday 17 April at 7pm.

Goetz Richter, Associate Professor of Violin and Chair of Strings at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, said: "We are thrilled about the success of our students in this competition.

"Over the past years we have worked very hard to build a comprehensive program of performance development to give our exceptional teachers the support they need in their work with these talented students.

"It is a combination of both teacher and student individual brilliance and the way we work together that makes the Sydney Conservatorium such an exceptional place for learning," he said.

Established in 1981, the 2014 Dorcas McCLean Travelling Scholarship is open to violinists across the country aged 25 years and under, who are competing for the top $40,000 prize. The prize enables the winner to undertake further study overseas, and the opportunity to record and perform with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra during the tenure of their scholarship.

Doretta Balkizas, who graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music last year, said: "Performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is such a great opportunity, and was the reason I was drawn to enter the competition. The fact that it also has a significant travel scholarship is an added bonus, but one doesn't think too much about that!"

Melbourne Conservatorium's Head of Strings, and Head Adjudicator of the competition, violinist Curt Thompson said, "I'm extremely excited to be a part of this year's Dorcas McClean Travelling Scholarship. While I'm still new to Australia, in my career overseas I have performed and competed with past winners of this significant national competition."

"The importance of the Dorcas McClean to young Australian violinists is profound, particularly this year as the winner will have the unique opportunity to perform and record with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra," he said.

A shortlist of six violinists competed in an all-day recital yesterday at the University of Melbourne's Melba Hall for the chance to progress through to the final round this Thursday. Current Sydney Conservatorium of Music students James Dong and Wendy Kong, and former student Xenia Deviatkina-Loh were also in the running.

"It was a nice surprise that all the contestants were from the Sydney Con. Xenia, Emily, Anne-Marie, James and I had studied together there, so it was a lovely opportunity to catch up," said Doretta.

A panel of three prominent Australian violinists including the Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Wilma Smith, former First Violin of the Australian String Quartet Sophie Rowell and Melbourne Conservatorium's Head of Strings Curt Thompson will judge the final round at the gala performance on Thursday. The overall winner will be announced at the end of the concert.

Tickets to the gala concert can be purchased online from the Melbourne Recital Centre Ticket prices are $35 adult and $25 concession.

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