The 55th National Concerto Competition took place over the weekend, featuring three of New Zealand's top pianists under the age of 25.
The winner of the career-launching $10,000 first prize was Yuzhang Wu, a year 12 school student from Auckland. Yuzhang also won the Junior Jury prize.
Benjamin Northey, conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on Saturday night, had high praise for all three finalists:
"Big congratulations to the three wonderful young pianists who performed with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in the final of the New Zealand National Concerto Competition last night. Yuzhang Wu was awarded first prize after a thrilling Rachmaninov Paganini Variations. Madeleine Xiao played a beautiful singing Chopin 1 and Henry Meng a powerful and excellently shaped Rach 3.
"Was incredibly proud of the fine and sensitive playing by the CSO musicians in support of these three finalists."
Each finalist performed a concerto with the CSO, and RNZ Concert recorded them in the Douglas Lilburn auditorium of the Christchurch Town Hall.
Hear the performance of each finalist on the radio during Days with Nick Tipping on RNZ Concert next week:
- Madeleine Xiao with 'Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11' by Chopin (third place) at 1pm on Monday, 27 March.
Henry Meng 'Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor' by Rachmaninov (second place) at 1pm on Tuesday, 28 March
- And Yuzhang Wu's winning performance of 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43' by Rachmaninov at 1pm on Wednesday, 29 March.
The complete finals performance will play during Music Alive with Clarissa Dunn at 8pm Friday 14th April 2023.