New Zealand’s only international piano competition concluded that the winner for 2016 was


Dong-Wan Ha returns to South Korea with the kudos of winning the New Zealand competition and the top prize monetary award of $15,000.

Don Wa Ha has been studying in the USA. He now returns to Seoul, South Korea, for a holiday and to catch up with family. He entered the award when he saw it posted on an American website and, he said, it “fitted nicely with his summer break”.

Born in 1988, he is a recipient of a special combined Artist Diploma in both piano performance and collaborative piano from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is currently studying in Northwestern University with Alan Chow for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree on full scholarship. Earlier this year he won first prizes in Delia Steinberg International Piano Competition in Spain and Neue Sterne International Piano Competition in Germany.

He now heads to Sydney for a two-day break and will then go to Seoul to catch up with family and friends.

Other prize winners for the 2016 event are:
2nd Prize – $8,000 – DONG YI LEE, Australia.

Born in in 1991, Dong Yi has gathered a reputation as one of Australia’s finest upcoming pianists. He has appeared as a soloist with the BBC Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony, Queensland Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony and has performed across Europe, USA, China, New Zealand and Australia. He is currently studying in Belgium and working with Michael Endres at the Barratt-Due Institute in Norway

3rd Prize – $4,000 – SAMUEL DEASON, Canada

Born in 1998 in Saskatoon, Samuel currently lives in Baltimore where he studies with Boris Slutsky at the Peabody Institute on full scholarship. Recent orchestral engagements include a performance of Prokofiev concerto No 2 with the Fort Worth Symphony orchestra, and concerti with orchestras across North America. He is the first Canadian to enter the Kerikeri International Piano Competition.

4th Prize – $,1000 awarded at the discretion of judges – Yi-Yang Chen, Taiwan

Jill Cottle Award for the Best Sonata Performance: $2,500
Dong-Wan Ha, South Korea

Sandy McKay Encouragement Award: $1,500
Chanyeong Yang, South Korea

Sir Michael Hill Development Prize, a house concert at the Hills Lodge and mentoring by Sir Michael Hill, awarded to a contestant resident in New Zealand:

Jane Ji-hyun Sohn

Competition Director, John Jackets, said this year was the most successful in the history of the Kerikeri International Piano Competition.

“There was a record 62 entries this year, an increase of 15 percent over the previous event held in 2014.

“The standard required to make the initial cut was noticeably higher than in previous years which suggests those who entered are further along in their careers than in previous years. That, in turn, indicates the international reputation of the event.”

Adjudicators for this year’s event were Albert Tiu from Singapore, Jan Jiracek Von Armin from Austria, and Eleanor Wong from Hong Kong.

The Kerikeri International Piano Competition became a biennial event in 2012 but as a national event has a much longer history.

The next event will be held in 2018. KIPC Trust Chairman, Sylvia Burch, says planning for that will commence in the next few months and she expects an even stronger line-up of high-calibre contestants to enter.

| 28.06.2016 |

Competitors in the Kerikeri International Piano Competition start to arrive in the Far North this week.

First on the scene is Samuel Deason from Canada – co-incidentally the first Canadian to enter the competition. He arrived on Monday afternoon, 27th .

This morning Elina Akselrud from The Ukraine, Fanya Lin from Taiwan but based in the USA and Chanyeong Yang from South Korea arrived on the 9.30am Air New Zealand flight. Three classical pianists on the one plane might be a record for Air NZ, Bay of Islands service.

All other contestants will be in town by Wednesday. They are billeted with local families and will make use of donated practice pianos.

| 29.06.2016 |

Adjudicator reveals a secret!

One of the Adjudicators in the Kerikeri International Piano Competition has revealed a secret. Well, not so much a secret as something we didn’t know about him before he arrived in Kerikeri.

Jan Jiracek Von Armin is Professor of Piano at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria. It is here that he breathes in the legacies left by some of the world’s most famous composers and pianists.

And Professor Von Armin loves to dance! It was too much not to ask him if he loves that famous rotary dance named from the city where he resides – the Viennese Waltz.

“Oh yes!” he beams. “I love it, and I try to dance as much as possible.”

So if you’re attending the Kerikeri International Piano Competition this coming weekend, don’t be surprised to see a tall Austrian do a twirl to the right and a spin to the left on occasions. He will be enjoying himself.

And if another secret is to be revealed, Professor Von Armin said he is “so impressed” with Kerikeri’s Turner Centre. He thinks the auditorium is “wonderful”.

| 30.06.2016 |

KIPC 2016 Opening Ceremony and Recital – Thursday 5.45pm

“Music is for sharing” said Eleanor Wong one of the judges at the grand opening of this year’s Kerikeri International Piano Competition. There was an electric air of excitement and anticipation amongst the large crowd of contestants and guests attending. Judge Jan Jiracek von Arnim’s astounding performance of Liszt’s Ballade in B minor has truly set the standard for the competition. This is going to be one of the best!

Mike Nettmann – KIPC reviewer

The contestants are ready.

They all met for the first time at the Turner Centre early Thursday evening. This photo preceded the order of play drawn from the famous Moet and Chandon top hat owned by Trustee, Tony Norman.

This was followed by a convivial hour of meet-and-greet. And then, first Albert Tiu (an Adjudicator) from Singapore delighted the audience with excerpts from his about-to-be-launched CD…..depicting seasons. It was a very popular part of the evening’s programme.

Jan Jiracek Von Armin, another of the Adjucators, gave us a standing ovation performance of Chopin and a Liszt ballade.

The stage is set for some memorable classical piano performances from some of the best up-and-coming exponents of this genre in the world.

| 01.07.2016 |

RNZ Concert’s Eva Radich interview with Professor Jan Jiracek Von Armin

RNZ Concert’s Eva Radich interviewed Professor Jan Jiracek Von Armin, one of the Adjudicators in the Kerikeri International Piano Competition. It can be heard from this link:

Adjudicator reveals more secrets!

There must be something in the Far North water, but Jan Jiracek Von Armin, Professor of Piano at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria, keeps revealing confidences.

For the Adjudicator in the Kerikeri International Piano Competition it may be what he does all the time. And judging from the audience reaction at his lunch-time talk at the Turner Centre today, Kerikeri is lovin’ it.

First we discovered that Professor Von Armin loves to dance. And, not surprisingly considering where he lives, he loves the Viennese Waltz. But there’s more. For instance, did you know?……

Jan’s father wanted him to be a trumpeter like himself and his mother wanted him to be a violinist. Except, he didn’t like the violin so that went out the window. Not literally though – he was four years old and probably couldn’t have reached anyway. There was a piano at home and he discovered “you could just bang on a key and a sound would come out straight away”. That’s what he liked.

Except, his ambition was to be a professional football (soccer) player. That is until his music teacher convinced him that piano playing could, in fact, mean being professional and travelling the world, just like a professional sportsmen. And that, says Jan Jiracek Von Armin, is what set him on the path.

He played in numerous competitions for a number of years and “always seemed to get second when judges were involved.” The first competition he won was in Morocco where the audience voted, so that’s another reveal. And the rest, as they say, is history. Except he tells us a few more anecdotes.

He loves hamburgers! So much so there’s a photo of him on the wall of a hamburger joint in Plain View, Texas (and he says the view really is like that, plain).

He likes to take selfies. At the end of a competition, or one of his many classes, up he pops and takes the self-shot in front of his students or the winner of a competition. They still love him.

At home in Vienna he lives across the road from where Franz Schubert lived for eight years. When he hears the church bells ringing, he imagines Schubert listening to the very same peals. Beethoven, too, lived in Vienna. It’s where he wrote his 9th Symphony.

And for today, that’s all Professor Von Armin reveals. Well, not quite. His father, he said, had wanted to go to New Zealand or Australia when he decided to leave the Czech Republic. He called into Germany first, met the woman he would marry and that, says the tall Austrian who loves dancing and is one of the world’s most respected classical pianists and teachers, is that.

Um, not quite Professor….along came you!

The Kerikeri International Piano Competition continues Saturday and Sunday.

| 02.07.2016 |

The Ladies Who Do:

The well-oiled machine that is the Kerikeri International Piano Competition can’t function without volunteers.

Hard at work in the kitchen are The Ladies Who Do. They start early in the morning buttering, chopping, peeling, making and finally wrapping the morning and afternoons teas, and the lunches, they have prepared.

Patrons have commented on the standard of the presented food. In fact attention to detail can be found on the wrapping where the price tag is a small piano keyboard. “How nice!” explained one young woman as she purchased. It is indeed.

So over the next two days, spare a thought for the girls in the kitchen. The bonus is the kitchen is in the Events Hall, where contestants warm up on the grand Yamaha close by. It’s not often such a standard of classical background music is provided.

The Ladies Who Do: Pictured from left – Annette, Jeanette, Irene and Helen.

Mike Nettman reviews Round 1:

An impressive start by Yi-Yang Chen with a fabulous Haydn Sonata in B flat which set the “tone” for the day. All three sections produced performances of passion, confidence and phenomenal virtuosity and technical skill.

A few highlights came from Chung Hok Chun and Chanyeong Yang who both coincidentally chose the same programme. They took full command of the Steinway with explosive interpretations of Beethoven’s Sonata in D major and Rachmaninoff’s Etude – tableau.

Fanya Lin gave a wonderful, insanely technical Chopin Etude Op 25 No 6. And then along came Samuel Deason with the WOW factor giving a brilliant performance of Haydn’s Sonata in C major and Rachmaninoff’s Etude -tableau Op 39 No 1

At 1pm we were treated to talk by judge Jan Jiracek von Armin highlighting his illustrious career and life as a concert pianist with a humorous slant. A special man indeed.

| 03.07.2016 | Finalists announced !

Round 2 Saturday

Incredible performances by all contestants. The level of technical ability, virtuosity and musicianship has been phenomenal. This competition is truly world class, attracting young pianists from around the world. Round 2 began with Yi-Yang Chen who once again set the “tone” for the day. His choice of music was perfect and performed masterfully. Alexander Yau’s Ravel; Une Barque sur L’Ocean was played as the composer intended. Jane Ji-hyun Sohn gave an astounding Scarlatti Sonata No2 in A major – wonderfully abstract. Sarah Lee deserved the resounding applause after her Kapustin and Liszt, performed with supreme speed and dexterity. Chung Hok Chun delivered another highly entertaining, well-constructed programme. The final, relatively short, deliberation by the judges voted Yi-Yang Chen (Taiwan), Samuel Deason (Canada), Dong Yi Lee (Australia) and Dong-Wan Ha (South Korea) to play in the finals on Sunday

– Mike Nettmann

Sunday 3rd July.

The morning’s Master Class with Professor Eleanor Wong was both inspiring and highly enlightening. Eleanor is an Artist in Residence and Senior Lecturer at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. What a bonus to hear her talk and give valuable advice.

This has certainly been an exciting and rewarding few days. The Competition has been the best ever and delighted all who attended. The contestants are to be congratulated and thanked for giving us world class performances.

The Final began once again with Yi-Yang Chen leading the way with a splendid programme which included his own remarkable composition; In Memoriam: Japan, March 11 Twisting Path and Oblivion. A very moving piece where he has used the piano in unconventional ways to produce haunting sounds. This was probably the highlight of the competition for me.

Samuel Deason performed with a beguiling presence. Dong-Wan Ha performed with precision and competence. Dong Yi Lee also gave an almost perfect performance. So finally after many, many, many notes had been played the judges voted 1st Dong-Wan Ha (South Korea), 2nd Dong Yi Lee (Australia), 3rd Samuel Deason (Canada) and 4th Yi-Yang Chen (Taiwan). The best Sonata Award went to Dong-Wan Ha. The Encouragement Award went to Chanyeong Yang (South Korea). The Sir Michael Hill Development Prize went to Jane Ji-hyun Sohn (South Korea/NZ).

Congratulations and thanks to all involved with this spectacular event……..bring on 2018