I'm a Logan Park and University student, and currently learning from Terence Dennis. With practice, I've gradually fallen in love with Saint-Saëns' second piano concerto - it's got a little bit of everything. It means I have to try imitating Bach, Mendelssohn, and then Offenbach in a short timespan without changing my hairstyle, and having to practice arpeggios and scales immediately after quite a lot of double octaves - but it's been enjoyable to put all these passages into one musical picture. I'm looking forward to seeing you, though I haven't decided on my hairstyle yet
Ayla Biner-McGrath - Clarinet
Hi! I’m Ayla and I’m in my last year at Otago Girls’. I have played the clarinet since I was 8. I’ve played in the Dunedin Youth Orchestra for the last four years and participated in the Chamber Music Competition for the last five. I play in my school’s jazz band and love to go busking with friends. I have also enjoyed playing in DPACS and IRMT musical competitions since I was about six. This year, some of my mates and I started Connections, an organisation with the goal of making classical music accessible to the public in relaxed busking settings. For this year’s concerto competition, I am playing the first and second movements from Mozart’s concerto for clarinet, one of my favourite and the most famous clarinet concertos of all time. Learning this concerto has been an interesting ride, having started it at the beginning of high school with a lot of putting down and picking up again, all whilst really getting to know the solo part and orchestral/piano accompaniments. I hope you enjoy all the performances - everyone has worked so hard for this competition and I’m so excited to play my piece and listen to everybody else :) !
Ben Walker - Tenor Trombone
As you’ve likely already read, my name is Ben Walker, and I play the Trombone. I’m a proud Timaruvian, and the latest brass student to begin studying music at the University of Otago. In 2022, I began studying for the Bachelor of Surveying at the university, but quickly realized that music, rather than academic studies, was what really captivated me. Perhaps my participation in the Kaikorai and St Kilda Brass Bands, the Dunedin Youth Jazz Orchestra, Dunedin Youth Orchestra and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra is sufficient evidence of that. The Trombone is, in my unbiased opinion, the best instrument in the world. The dexterity of this instrument is just totally unmatched. With it I can play music which is serious, music which is silly, and all things in between. My piece of choice - 2nd Mvmt. of Nino Rota’s Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra - exemplifies both beauty and brawn. I hope that my performance will be as pleasurable for the audience as was my first experience of hearing it.
Benjamin Pickering – Tenor Trombone
Hello! My name is Benjamin, and I’m a 16-year-old tenor and bass trombonist, currently at Bayfield High School. I have been taking lessons with Paul Claman for the past few years, and have played the trombone for around 7 years. This will be my first Concerto Competition, and I hope to gain some experience from it. It will be nice to hear all the other young talents from around and about. I know we’ve all worked hard for this! I am a member of the Dunedin Youth Orchestra and the Dunedin Youth Jazz Orchestra, and greatly enjoy playing in both. I also play for my school orchestra, jazz band, and show band, and it’s always nice to see the new players coming up through the ranks. As for personal taste, I enjoy a large range of music, ranging from Riddim to Pop, but always enjoy playing classical music as well. My other hobbies include Figure Skating, which I have done for around 11 years, and the niche art of Beatboxing, a hobby I picked up in the 2020 Covid Lockdown. I’m always keen to learn new things!
Bertil Feng - Piano and Violin
I am Bertil Feng, 14 years old from Verdon college. I have learnt music over 10 years, music is a part of my life. This is the second time I’ve joined in the Dunedin Concerto competition, I will perform two instruments ——piano and violin. I am not going to play Beethoven like what I did two years ago: I like to make this year my Mozart year. So I prepared the Mozart violin concerto No.4 and piano concerto No.17. Because of the time restrictions in place, I will only be playing the first two movements of the violin concerto, which is a pity. I wish to perform the full concerto with the orchestra one day. I am also a competitive swimmer and programmer competing in Nationals each year. I enjoy playing hockey, waterpolo, cricket and table tennis with others after school. I believe all of my hobbies make my life more interesting and explores amongst those of similar mind or physical interests. Looking forward to meeting all of you and sharing my passion for music with you all in March.
Boudewijn Keenan - Cello
Boudewijn Keenan is a second year music student, studying at the university of Otago and learning the cello under the expert tutelage of Dr Heleen du Plessis. He has experience playing in a number of groups around Dunedin and the country, such as the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra, including as a soloist with the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, the Southern Youth Choir and Royal Dunedin Male Choir. In November of last year, he performed as part of the Bloom String Quartet in a tour of the South Island, sponsored by the Magic Carpet trust. All of these experiences have contributed to his love for playing the cello. The Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky is an extraordinarily beautiful and virtuosic piece that pushes the capabilities of the cello and cellist to its limits. Boudewijn is excited to bring this piece alive on stage, and hopes you all enjoy the performance.
Cameron Monteath - Piano
My name is Cameron and I am in my final year of a Bachelor of Music in Performance and Composition, and a Bachelor of Arts in French and German. I am playing Poulenc’s Piano Concerto, a lesser known work which features much interplay between the soloist and the orchestra. It is in many ways classic Poulenc, moving away in haste from the large Romantic textures of a half-century prior, while also bearing similarities to other more subtle works for piano and orchestra such as De Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain. I am very excited to be presenting this seldom played concerto, and to be participating in this competition for a second time, this time on a different instrument.
Danny Wang - Piano
Hello. I am Danny. I will make this introduction as brief as possible. I am from Invercargill, Southland. Over the course of more than a decade of musical study, it has always been an inseparable part of my daily life over the years. This will be the second time I've paraticipated in the Dunedin Concerto Competition. This year I will be performing a piece that is quite different from what I have done last time, fast fowarding into 1940s. Bartók's 3rd Piano Concerto in E Major, composed in the last months of his life. Specifically the second movement, Adagio Religioso. Though only one movement, it is still very characteristic - the quick fast moving "blur" phrases contrasted by the large, bright chords, symbolically representing how quickly life goes by, the memories we cannot remember are shades at the back of our memory, but the memories that mean the most to us are as clear as crystal, at the last moment of his life. This is the beauty in this piece - it is the composer's life, both in a figurative and a literal sense.
Esther 'Elio' Oh - Violin
Nineteen-year-old Esther 'Elio' Oh (they/them) first picked up the violin at age six. Since then, they have taken part in a plethora of competitions, such as the National Finals of the NZ Chamber Music Contest. Qualifications include the NZQA Scholarship for Music, and the Trinity College London Diploma in Violin Performance, which they received with Distinction in 2020. Elio’s passion lies in ensemble music, having played in the Manukau Symphony Orchestra, NZ Secondary Schools Orchestra, and Orchestra Wellington, as well as helping out in student rehearsals at their old high school. In 2024, Elio will be starting their first year at Otago Medical School. Having taken a year-long break from violin to focus on Otago University’s highly competitive Health Science First Year course, Elio is incredibly grateful to the Dunedin Concerto Competition for providing such a valuable opportunity to make music once again.
Grace Hill - Violin
I am Grace Hill and I’m a Year 12 student at Columba College. I have been playing the violin since I was 5 years old and Sandra Crawshaw has been my teacher for many years. I passed my Grade 8 Violin Exam in 2022 after a few Covid exam cancellations. I have been a member of the DYO for 2 years, and in 2021, I performed with DYO in the first Concerto Competition final. I am excited to be performing as a soloist in this years Concerto Competition I love all things musical and my other passions are classical singing, musical theatre and tap dancing. I have been performing at Dunedin instrumental, vocal , and tap dancing competitions and in community musicals since I was 7 years old. I am currently a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Choir. I will be performing Oskar Reiding’s Violin Concertino in Hungarian Style. I wish all the other competitors all the very best.
Karuna Yang - Flute
Hi, I’m Karuna Yang and I’m 12 years old. I’ve been looking forward to (and dreading!) performing in the Concerto Competition. I’ve been playing the flute since I was 5. I had to play a wooden stick and spit rice off our deck for one year before I got a proper flute. I’ve been in the Dunedin Scottish Fiddle Orchestra and the DSO Academy. Apart from music, I like playing soccer, learning languages and going to the beach.
Melissa Van der Haegen - Oboe
Hi! I’m Melissa and I’ve (finally) reached the end of my high school experience… my next move will be engineering in Belgium later in the year! In the meantime, I plan to recover from burnout and undertake a music paper at Otago Uni. I first picked up the oboe at age 8 amongst numerous other classical instruments, but ultimately I found that oboe was the one I really enjoyed. I now learn with Nick Cornish, and I’m looking forward to having this opportunity to play Kalliwoda’s entire oboe concert(in)o in F major and especially to hearing the many other talented musicians playing throughout the week in March
Michelle Brown - Violin
Hi! I’m Michelle and I’m very excited to play in the Dunedin Concerto Competition 2023! I’m currently in my 3rd year of studying towards a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Primary Teaching. I started learning the violin around 6 years ago, and absolutely love it! I’ll be playing the first and second movements of Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 3 in G major. I’ve always loved this concerto, and it was one of the very pieces that made me want to begin learning the violin. I’m looking forward to gaining more experience in performing and hearing everyone perform at this competition!
Ozan Biner-McGrath - Piano
Hi, I’m Ozan. I’m a year 10 student at Logan Park High School. I will be playing Haydn’s D major piano concerto. I have been playing the piano since I was little. Other forms of music that I enjoy playing include chamber music, busking, and trumpet as a second instrument. I am very fortunate to have learnt from John Cowill and am now learning from my dad as well as having some lessons with John van Buskirk. Aside from music I enjoy Football, Cricket, Karate, Table tennis, and mountain biking. I am super stoked to participate in this competition again and look forward to performing a lovely piece of music. Thank you to everyone who organised this event and hope to see you in March!
Sam Merton - Violin
Hi! My name is Sam and I'm a 20 year old student studying Music and Computer Science at the University of Otago. I am originally from Wellington but am down in Dunedin for my third year of study. My violin journey started at 5 years old with Lynley Culliford in Wellington, and since beginning university I have been learning from Tessa Peterson and am looking forward to continuing with her this year. I'm excited to play the first and second movements of Saint Saen's Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor for this year's concerto competition, and also look forward to hearing the results of other musicians' hard work. I've really enjoyed learning these concerto movements over the last year and hope that you will enjoy them.
Serenity Hook - Trumpet
Hello, My name is Serenity Hook and I am currently in Year 13 at Trinity Catholic College. I have always had an strong interest in music having played many instruments over the years including Trumpet, Cornet and Violin. My passion for music has given me lots of opportunities. My biggest accomplishment was being selected for the National Secondary Schools Brass Band for the past three years on Solo Cornet. I am grateful for the expertise and guidance of my teacher Paul Claman who I have been learning from for the past ten years. Looking ahead, I am looking forward to playing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto at the competition.
Skyla Murray - Violin
Hi! I’m Skyla, a first year Music student at the University of Otago, studying violin with Tessa Petersen. Having started playing violin at three years old, I’ve always wanted to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto since I first heard it - this piece explores so many emotions and characters, allowing the violin to both sing and dance. I love how the melody is lyrical and longing in parts, and sparkly and flirtatious in others. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to perform this piece at the upcoming competition, and share its many moods with the audience. Not only am I excited to make music, but to hear the wide range of music being performed as well!
Wesley Wu - Violin
Hello I am Wesley Wu. Currently a 4th Year Pharmacy student at the University of Otago. I have been playing the violin since I was 7 years old. I was born and raised in Venezuela and came to New Zealand in 2015. I learned the violin and my other instruments at "El Sistema". Music is one of my passions and I think it's the best way to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions. It has become a part of me.
Sebastian Hook - Trombone
Hi a little bout me, I am 20 years old and I love practicing the trombone. I have chosen this one movement from a tricky trombone concerto to really test me this year, hope all goes well !!