As one of the key sponsors in the upcoming Melbourne Violin Competition we are taking a look at the founder of String Musicians Australia, Jennen Ngiau-Keng, and his motivations for getting involved in the creation of Melbourne's Premier Violin competition.
My parents migrated from Malaysia to Melbourne to give my older sister and me new and different opportunities in life.
As a hyperactive child, my mother had difficulty dealing with my high energy levels and decided that I would commence piano lessons at the age of three. Playing music seemed to be a good outlet for my energy and expression. Soon after, I began learning the violin as well.
Being a sociable child, the Suzuki Method suited me well, as I was motivated by group lessons and Suzuki conferences.
My first Suzuki teacher, Natalie Bergan, suggested to my mother that I start entering music competitions, and before long I was entered into many eisteddfods each year.
I always enjoyed performing, and competing in music competitions was no different. Performing on stage boosted my confidence in all areas of life.
From 2002 to 2005, I studied at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) under the guidance of John Harding and Alice Waten. It was during this time that I won competitions including the Gisborne International Music Competition, the Kendall National Violin Competition and the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition.
After completing my studies at ANAM, I performed regularly as a casual violinist with orchestras including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
In 2007, whilst on tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I set up an online business selling elevator shoes for men.
The business has now been running for over ten years, and with stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, it is demanding more of my time and energy than ever before.
Though I don’t practise the violin like I used to, I acknowledge that many of my other skills are attributed to the methodical training as a young violinist.
The 2018 Melbourne Violin Competition is my way of contributing to the music community.
Having entered hundreds of eisteddfods and competitions, I feel I have what it takes to make this competition a success. I want the 2018 Melbourne Violin Competition to be fair, unique and beneficial for everyone involved.
An enthusiast of The Six Sonatas and Partitas by J.S Bach, I have dedicated the 2018 Melbourne Violin Competition to these works.
The first stage of the competition requires the entrants to video record themselves performing any one movement from The Six Sonatas and Partitas BWV1001-1006 by J.S Bach
The second stage requires the entrants to video record themselves performing any other two movements from The Six Solo Sonatas and Partitas BWV1001-1006 by J.S Bach.
Since the repertoire is solo, entrants can record themselves in their home or practice room without the need of a pianist. This not only makes it more cost effective, but also encourages them to take their time to view their recordings, self-reflect and re-record until completely satisfied that their performance reflects their personality, interpretation and capability.
For many, the recording process may take weeks or months, but the improvement will be significant and will result in a documented performance that the entrant is proud of, and will hopefully share with others.
There is a lot of value in this process and I’m confident that each entrant will gain from the experience whether they reach the finals or not.
An intention of this competition is to encourage violinists to enjoy and benefit from the practice of unaccompanied Bach. As a result, each entrant who does not progress to the next stage of the competition will be given useful and encouraging feedback.
Those who progress from Stage 2 will be required to perform for the semi-finals at Melba Hall, University of Melbourne on the 20th of October 2018. Each semi-finalist will be required to perform one complete Sonata or Partita BWV1001-1006 by J.S Bach.
From these performances, three violinists will be selected to perform the same repertoire for the finals concert the following day.
For the first three stages of the competition, the adjudicators are Sophie Rowell and Sarah Curro from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
The finals concert will be held at 2pm on the 21st of October 2018, at Abode Sky Lounge, 318 Russell St, Melbourne.
Sixty guests will attend, comprising of past and present members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Australian String Quartet as well as string staff from the Australian National Academy of Music, The University of Melbourne and Monash University. The Age’s music critic, Clive O’Connell will also be in attendance. To view the full list of guest voters, click here.
The above guests will vote anonymously for their favourite performance and the finalist with the most votes will win $5,000 AUD. The other finalists will each receive $1,000 AUD.
For all competition details visit www.violincompetition.com.au