Yebin Yoo, Oscar Han and Natalia Harvey triumph in a contest of violins at the Gisborne International Music Competition

Three Australian violinists have taken top honours in the Gisborne International Music Competition. In its 28th year, the Competition is an opportunity for young orchestral instrumentalists to develop their performance skills with the experience of jurors who are themselves professional musicians. Open to musicians aged 16 to 25, it is considered one of the most significant development bursaries in the Australasian region, drawing entrants from all over the world.

This year, 16-year-old Yebin Yoo was awarded first prize, receiving $9,000 NZD and a number of performance opportunities in New Zealand. She was also the recipient of the prize for Best Performance of a Work by a New Zealand composer, worth $1000.

“I believe that the competition will open new doorways and provide many opportunities that will change my life”, Yoo told the Gisborne Herald. “I cannot thank the competition committee, the Gisborne community, fellow musicians and supporters enough for creating such a special moment.”

The jury for this year’s competition were oboist and Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music Nick Deutsch, and Principal Violist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Julia Joyce.

Competition director Mark La Roche was “absolutely thrilled” that Yebin placed first. “When I first heard her in the preliminary round, I knew I was hearing a finalist. She had such a pure sound and impeccable technique, yet played with the maturity of a seasoned professional.”

Yoo, a student at the Australian National Academy of Music, expressed her appreciation for the Gisborne audiences. “The most enjoyable part of the competition was sharing my music and emotions to a very receptive and warm audience in each of the three rounds,” she said.

Completing the triumvirate of Australian winners, the second and third prizes were awarded to 16-year-old Oscar Han and 24-year-old Natalia Harvey. They were awarded $5000 and $3000 respectively. Oscar was also named Most Promising candidate with a prize of $1500, while Natalia received $1000 for Best Performance of a Work by J.S. Bach. Previous Australian winners include classical guitarist Andrey Lebedev in 2013, and violinist James Dong in 2012. 

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