13 December 2010

Three years ago violinist Jonathan Mui scored a triple whammy - he claimed his first major music prize; was the youngest winner in the history of the competition and the first to gain a new international travel scholarship.

But having swept all before him in the prestigious Kendall Competition as a 17-year-old, he promptly "retired" from event performances to concentrate on studying and building his repertoire under the guidance of Sydney Conservatorium Associate Professor Ole Bohn.

But two years on, and his first event outing since the Kendall, Mui this week took first prize in the 22nd Gisborne International Music Competition, finishing ahead of 65 contenders aged 16-25 and drawn from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, USA and China.

In the final he performed a near flawless delivery of Norwegian composer Christian Sinding's Suite In The Old Style, Sonata No. 4 in A Minor by Ludwig van Beethoven, and Pablo de Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy on the Caldersmith violin he won as part of his Kendall award.

Mui earned $8,000, his performance was recorded for a Radio New Zealand Concert, he was also named joint-winner for the Best Performance of a Work by a New Zealand Composer, and, the timing was also perfect…he turned 20 during the competition!

Mui, from Sydney's Northern Suburbs, made his first trip to New Zealand for the event with his page-turning brother Christopher and piano accompanist Sorina Zamfir.

"You could say it was an overwhelming experience, but certainly the best result I could have ever hoped for after two years of not competing," he commented.

"Ole Bohn is just marvelous; such a great artist and teacher; he has certainly been a major influence in bringing out the best in me.

"My focus is now on completing my degree and concentrating on one or two major competitions in 2011."

Mui said his approach to the Gisborne International benefitted greatly from overseas concert tours to Germany and the USA this year, as part of The Con's Symphony Orchestra made up of 68 students and The Con's 34-member Chamber Orchestra.

"Nothing prepares you better than being put on the spot in concerts in such monumental music centres as Stuttgart and New York," he said.

"It's sink or swim when you are part of a full orchestra and working with such an experienced conductor as Imre Pallo."

The Gisborne competition was also a boon to fellow Con students.

Third place was taken out by cellist Karol Kowalik, a student of Uzi Weisel, while Gefu Fox Chen and Anne-Marie Johnson made the semi-finals.

Chen was awarded the prize for Best International String Player. It provides him with a return trip to New Zealand to play a full recital.

Dean and Principal, Professor Kim Walker, was on the Jury for this year's competition.

"It was fantastic to hear such virtuosity across the entire field of musicians. Jonathan has a wonderful future ahead of him," she said.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 5d5f2c21453d01192a0717292d0a04303e14223f1a16000e26694e3e