University of Waikato music student Matthias Balzat was awarded the top instrumental place and overall grand winner at this year’s New Zealand National Concerto Competition – meaning a fifth consecutive win for Waikato cellists.
Cellists Matthias and Hye In Kim, also from Waikato, were the only two instrumental finalists to compete in the finals in Christchurch on Saturday night. Matthias was awarded a prize of $10,000, with Hye In receiving the second place prize of $3,000.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand National Concerto Competition and as a tribute to mark this special occasion the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) provided the orchestral accompaniment for the finalists – usually provided by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
“Having the NZSO perform at this year’s event recognises the competition’s importance in helping our musical students to attain an international level of performance as a soloist,” says James Tennant of the University of Waikato’s Conservatorium of Music.
Matthias and Hye In are both enrolled in the University of Waikato's soloist music course.
“Being so young at 17 years and playing with our nation's most prestigious musical institution was a dream come true for them. Both students are heading towards international careers as soloists, so this was a wonderful opportunity to get a real taste for what might become a regular experience for them,” says Mr Tennant.
The competition usually alternates annually between piano and instrumental, however with this year being the 50th there was an instrumental and a piano final, with two finalists from each. Matthias won not just the instrumental final but was also awarded the overall grand winner on the night. Siyu Sun from Christchurch took out the top spot for the piano final ahead of Delvan Lin from Auckland.
Matthias was born and raised in Auckland. He has been a student of Mr Tennant for the past five years, coming to the University of Waikato at just 14 years old. He will be continuing his studies in Germany from October this year and has won many competitions including the Wallace International Cello Competition in August 2016.
Hye In was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand in 2008. He has been a student of Mr Tennant for the past two years and is coming into his first year of study at the University of Waikato. He has won many prizes in competitions in New Zealand and Italy.