Gisborne International Music Competition

Following the devastating 1988 Cyclone Bola, local music and sports retailer Ian Dunsmore initiated the Gisborne International Music Competition, with the backing of the Rotary Club of Gisborne, with the dual purposes of benefitting the Gisborne community and promoting the region nationally. Those initial goals still hold true, however with international artists now accounting for almost half the competitor field annually, the GIMC proudly promotes Gisborne as a place of world-class music and phenomenal natural beauty to a global audience. 

In 2014 governance of the GIMC was transferred from the Rotary Club of Gisborne to the newly formed Gisborne International Music Competition Charitable Trust. 

The GIMC is open to all New Zealand and international players of core orchestral instruments aged between 16 and 25 years. The format is that of a recital style competition and entrants are asked to submit a programme of 45 - 55 minutes that covers at least two musical periods and includes at least one unaccompanied work. In the first and semi final rounds, competitors perform 25 – 30 minutes of music selected for them by the jurors from their nominated programmes. The finalists then present a recital of 30 - 35 minutes. (Please check the Competition Rules and Conditions for precise details)

  • Official collaborative pianists are made available at no additional cost
  • All competitors are able to receive feedback about their performance in private interviews with the jurors
  • A number of social and community engagement activities are offered
  • Billeted accommodation is offered to all competitors during the competition

The high number of returning competitors proves the competition has successfully achieved a balance in providing a challenging but supportive musical environment and the relaxed and friendly nature of Gisborne has made it the perfect place to host such a special event. Competitors return year after year for the beauty of the natural environment and for the warm support they receive from the Gisborne community.

The first competition was held in 1989 and it has been run every year since. 2021 will be the 33rd Gisborne International Music Competition.

Testimonials received following the 2020 Gisborne International Music Competition

Fantastic experience, world class organisation and hospitality


Good people, good experiences and good environment


Great friendly and supportive environment and serious competition at the same time


I love the community atmosphere and the encouragement you get from the other players


It’s such a smoothly run event / friendly environment to perform the year’s work


Excellent environment, billets and location


It is a great environment, friendly and accessible

GIMC is a great competition - not just the competition part but the social events and friendly atmosphere


I loved the experience to listen to other musicians competing and really enjoyed my stay at the host


Very well organised competition and a nice chance to play in a friendly but pressured environment


This year being my 4th year in Gisborne, I once again had amazing days of music making and opportunities. The friendly and supportive environment of the GIMC helped me to bring out the best of me in the last couple of days and every moment on the stage is so special to me and I think I will always keep that memory.


Thanks for a great week, hoping to be back again next year! The opportunity to hear so many top young players live in just a few days was a really exciting part of gathering in Gisborne. The fabulous pianists also offered a remarkable chance to work alongside leaders in our field.


The 2020 Gisborne International Music Competition has undoubtedly been one of the highlights in a year filled with lockdowns, uncertainty and stress. The competition is excellently structured and fully transparent with its competitors in a professional manner. GIMC is so much more than simply a competition, rather a uniquely Gisborne experience.