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Musicians from around the world meet in Gisborne

Conceived in the wake of Cyclone Bola, the Gisborne International Music Competition has reigned, hailed and stormed its way through 30 years of world-class, live musical performance.

The idea was to present the festival of excellence in orchestral, instrumental music as a positive event for the Gisborne community and one that would dispel wider perceptions that Gisborne was ruined. The inaugural Gisborne International Music Competition (GIMC) was held in 1989.

With Christchurch Symphony Orchestra principal timpanist and community engagement programme educator Mark La Roche as competition manager, the GIMC has evolved over the past three decades.

A new initiative this year is to make the event free to the public. This includes the final on Saturday, December 7.

Gisborne musicians

Among the Gisborne musicians to participate in the week long competition, is flute player Matthew Lee who is now based in Boston where he is completing his diploma in performance.

Having reached the grand old age of 25, Gisborne-born flute player Matthew Lee will perform in the GIMC for the final time.

“Matthew has been involved since he was a student at Campion College,” says La Roche. “He bunked school to watch the performances.”

Dusseldorf-based cellist, Sam Lucas, was a GIMC finalist in 2013 and 2014, and met his New Zealand Teacher James Tennant while competing here.

“For both musicians, the GIMC has been pivotal their musical careers.”

Community outreach

With La Roche at the helm, the GIMC is known for getting out into the community. In the lead up to this year’s competition, La Roche and violinist Cathy Irons will run a music residency programme at Ilminster Intermediate. This will culminate in a performance for the school community at 1.15pm on Friday, November 29.

“We will be developing a number of projects that involve drumming, composition and song-writing.”

Once the competition is under way, a group of musicians will visit Te Wiremu House where they will perform for the residents. The following day, a group of GIMC musicians will perform for students from Te Wharau School while another group will perform for Lytton High School learning support unit students.

The role of orchestral musicians has changed radically over the past decade and there is now an expectation that orchestras should be responsive to the needs of their communities, says La Roche.

“There is a massive surplus of excellent young musicians internationally, so an aptitude for community engagement could be the thing that wins them a job in the future.”

The 2019 Gisborne International Music Competition, War Memorial Theatre, first rounds Monday December 2-Wednesday December 4, 10am, 2pm and 7pm. Friday December 6, semi-final round, 10am, 2pm and 7pm. Competition final, Saturday December 7, 7pm. Free admission to all events.

THE RETURN: A finalist in 2013 and 2014 Gisborne International Music Competition, Dusseldorf-based cellist Sam Lucas will return for the 2019 event. File picture