Helloooo! My name is Sophie and I’m a recent high school graduate who still has no idea which uni she is attending this year. Being part of the concerto competition means a great addition to the already-heated music discussions in our family. (my brother): “Rachmaninoff is a devil. He loves torturing other pianists’ brain with five against three, or three against two. Okay, three against two is normally fine, but when all other composers put three notes in the right hand and two notes in the left hand, Rachmaninoff decided he is too cool for them and does the exact opposite.” (me): “Schumann is not any better. At least you don’t need to deal with three against two with the left-hand triplet coming in on an off beat (exactly, how do you play this???), or messing with a triplet within a triplet.” (Damn, Schumann, do you really need to work that hard to confess your love to Clara? I thought she would already be melted by the first theme.) But entering the competition did not just give me another chance to complain. Ever since I started learning Schumann’s love letter, I developed an incurable fetish for piano concertos. Whether it is looking at Horowitz flapping his flat fingers on the keys with an emotionless face (plus massive nostrils) but with heart-warming tunes pouring out to an entire hall, or Yuga Wang playing cadenzas like a total pro in her spicy dress, I loved every single second. THEY ARE JUST SOOOOO GOOD! The competition will also bring so many other things: playing in Marama Hall (and maybe the Town Hall) for free (oh wait, there is the entry fee, oops), being introduced to so many aspiring musicians, and gossiping and playing card games in the basement of course, while the hall above is under tight scrutiny and bombarded with serious, straight faces. This will also be the first time I play something together with my teacher, which would be an amazing but horrifying (got ya, just kidding 😜) experience. And I really look forward to sharing my love of classical music in the Dunedin Concerto Competition. 😃
Sophie Hamer - Cello
I have recently completed my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in music, including cello performance with Heleen du Plessis, and minoring in statistics. I am looking forward to studying honours in music this year, furthering my studies with the cello. Since beginning to learn the piano at the age of 6, I have always loved playing music. I started the cello when I was 7 and since then it has always been my favourite instrument! I especially enjoy making music with other people and I am a member of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Cellists of Otago and the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, with whom I enjoyed performing the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto last year. I also love sharing my passion for music with young people at the Saturday Morning Music Classes where I teach cello and clarinet. In my spare time, I enjoy watching football, reading and playing the saxophone, which I have recently picked up and am enjoying the challenge of learning something new.
Skyla Murray - Violin
Hi! I’m Skyla, and I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to perform Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole at the upcoming competition. In preparation for the performance, I’ve been trying to find enjoyment in slow, metronomic practice and, when upping the tempo, endeavouring to portray the ‘flamenco’ like character of the piece. It’s been great to have something to work towards, and I’m also very much looking forward to watching the wide range of concertos being performed over the week.
Sabine Grey - Clarinet
My name is Sabine Grey and I am a 20 year old student studying medical laboratory science at the University of Otago. I am originally from Christchurch, and moved here to Dunedin in 2019. I began learning the clarinet when I was 9 years old, as a part of my primary school’s band programme. I was an active member of my high school’s music groups, and also taught clarinet to a few students during this time. In 2017 and 2018, I was a part of the NZSSSO, and playing with other talented musicians my age was a great experience. As I am passionate about both science and music, deciding whether or not to study music was a very tough decision. Despite not studying music, I have continued to play the clarinet as a part of the Dunedin Youth Orchestra. In the future, I hope to work in the field of genetics, as well as continuing with clarinet. I am very excited to be a part of this competition, as it has given me the opportunity to learn and perform my favourite clarinet concerto. I really love Finzi’s clarinet concerto, and am looking forward to sharing it with you!
Rose Stevenson - Violin
I’m Rose Stevenson and I’m 19. Music is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Whether that’s creating it, performing it or listening to it, I absolutely love it. Although I get lessons and practice mostly for classical violin, I love playing other genres too. At high school I played jazz violin in the jazz band and currently I play electric violin in an indie-rock-pop band called Sometime Winner. We are super excited because the EP that we spent ages recording at the start of summer is being released really soon!! I am currently a second year student at Otago Uni studying a bachelor of music. I loved learning performance violin from Tessa Petersen last year. I also thoroughly enjoyed doing composition and songwriting. I am always so grateful that I decided to study music at uni. During school I was leaning more towards science, or a double degree with science and music. However, at the end of year 13 I dropped the science idea fully. I am so glad I did because I realise now that I would only have been doing science to please other people and to feel so-called ‘successful’. I honestly had the best year ever last year purely focusing on music. I know I could never ever give it up. The aspect of the concerto competition that I am especially looking forward to is the performance. That is one of my favorite things about playing an instrument. The scariness of being up on stage, the amazing feeling of conveying emotions through the music to an audience, the satisfaction of having practiced a piece so much that it becomes fun to perform. That’s what I’m looking forward to most about this upcoming performance.
Lucy Costelloe - Violin
Lucy Costelloe is a third year Music and Law student at the University of Otago. She enjoys how music can create a world of it’s own while performing, and finds performing with others holds a valuable lesson on the importance of trust between players to best portray that musical world. Lucy’s achievements include the 2019 University of Otago Alice Kirschner Prize in violin, 2019 ARSM Diploma, 2018 ABRSM Irene Lassen Award, and 2017 Gold Award in the NZCT Chamber Music Contest with her chamber group. Alongside her studies, in 2019 she was a casual player for the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and plans to audition this year. Lucy has enjoyed preparing for the Dunedin Concerto Competition and is excited to be a part of it.
Linbey Ke - Violin
Hello! My name is Linbei and I am excited to be playing in the Dunedin Concerto Competition! I began learning the violin when I was 9 years old, at the time I had still been living in Canada. Am currently enjoying the rest of my summer before the new semester starts - and definitely loving that it's given me more time for much-needed practice! Between the busy schedule as a full-time dental student, music and violin have become my outlet from studies. I haven't competed in many years now so this competition gives me a fun goal to work towards, as well as the opportunity to meet other talented individuals and new friends. I hope to become a better, more confident performer and continue to be involved within the musical community!
Kim De Vantier - Flute
“Hi! I’m Kim De Vantier and I’m super excited to be in the 2021 Concerto Competition. I have been playing the flute since Year 4 when everyone in my year got to learn their instrument of choice. For this competition, I will be performing the first movement of Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 in G major. I have always loved Mozart’s music and I find this concerto lively and lovely to listen to. In preparation for the competition I have been working hard at getting into character of the music and making sure this concerto is solid in my memory.“
Kevin Chen - Flute
Hi! My name is Kevin and I am excited to be part of the Dunedin concerto competition! Although saxophone is my first instrument, I picked up flute a few years ago and have enjoyed playing it ever since. On sax it is very easy to get away with playing mistakes (in jazz, they say that there is no such thing as 'wrong' notes :P), but small errors in things like embouchure and articulation are quite noticeable on the sound of the flute and require particular attention and discipline. For me, this competition is a great way to coax myself into practicing over the summer break and to engage with other musicians in the Dunedin community and hopefully make some friends along the way too. I hope you will all come and see us play :)
Elia Hayashishita - Piano
Hello I’m Elia, a year 13 at Logan Park High School, who really enjoys Music. I started playing the Piano when I was 5, and throughout my years of learning, I have gradually begun to realise that Music is a way to express myself and to show other people who I am. I hope I am able to do just that in this upcoming competition.
Julia Yoo - Piano
Hi! My name is Julia Yoo. I’m studying piano with Prof. Terence Dennis at Otago. I’m a fourth year student in BASc. I’m thrilled to play Rachmaninoff’s very first Piano Concerto No.1. It is a special repertoire, unique in the way that Rachmaninoff himself revised in his late years. It was first composed when he was a student. I wish to perform to you my very best in what was in his heart.
Danny Wang - Piano
I only got words of the introduction today due to… Some reasons - an email asking 300 words . But let’s not talk about me, but allow me to bore you all about a piece that I wrote by meeting 300 words (as required ahaha...). I called it Three Hundred Notes, Three Hundred Lives. I wrote it with inspiration from a story I knew. The story was about a girl who had great dreams in becoming a seafarer for she loved the sea, but her homeland was very far from the shore. Oh, how she wished to see the waves pound against the jagged cliffs, to smell the scent and the breeze. Then one day she had to part with her homeland for a very long time, perhaps even forever. Yes, she saw the sea, but then realisation dawned that she craved for her home more. One day, the girl met a traveller who was also far away from home. She asked him: Will I ever see my home again? Will my friends and family forgive me? Is my life that worthy? The traveller said nothing but strung his lute and played a piece of Three Hundred Notes. Then he replied simply: Your life is worth Three Hundred of those who leave their homeland and forget them forever. So she set sail and faced the journey home. She knew the dangers but she was ready to brace them. And the story ended. Whether she made it home, I do not know. What I do know is, my story is exactly the same as hers. And I will prepare. Thank you for giving this opportunity, for this is a step of my journey. I am Danny Wang, pianist, flautist, shengist, maybe ocarinist and composer from Invercargill, who once lived in Beijing. This is only for you to read and listen. See you all at 6 March.
Cameron Monteath - Piano
Hi - my name is Cameron and I am in my second year studying towards a MusB and a BA here at the University of Otago. Music has always been a constant love of mine throughout my life, and whenever I perform(however prepared I may be) the primary aim is to always transmit that to the audience, no matter what. (😏) Another passion of mine is to perform music by composers who are not as well known. Through doing this we make discoveries(always fun) and foster a more positive outlook on music in general(through the knowledge that good music can come from anywhere). I am enjoying my preparations - obtaining the score was one of the most interesting parts! I had to email the composer(who lives in Denmark) and get his permission to obtain the score(which is not currently published). I am indebted to Thomas for his generosity. It has been a long while since I have performed in a concert such as this - so in a way I am looking forward to ‘coming out of retirement’ so to speak ;)) Looking forward to seeing all of the other musicians play of course - to see the diverse mixture of pieces/instruments will surely be entertaining!
Bertil Feng - Violin
I'm Bertil Feng, violinist from Invercargill. For a change, instead of being a total nitwit like my brother who spent an entire weekend composing a piece of 300 notes for his introduction, I am going to be way more straightforward. Yes, this Intro and Polonaise is all about me. Yes, me. I started learn piano since I was 4 years old, but later on I found I was more interested in violin. Because my mother bought me this lovely little point reading pen that sscreams instrument notes when it meets the picture of an instrument. Since then I started learning the violin in kindegarten, which was lucky as my kindegarten taught itinerant music lessons. At the age of 5, I recieved my very first violin. Since then the violin has been something that is with me all the time, like an impartable friend, an extension of myself. I am extremly excited for this event and I am looking forward too seeing you all!
Angela Fu - Piano
Hi! My name is Angela and I am a year 13 student at Columba College. My preparations for the concerto competition are going in an alarmingly opposite direction to my strangely positive attitude. My preparations can be summarised by using the great words of composer Leonard Bernstein, “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not enough time”, and if these words are anything to go by, I’ve already achieved half of the requirements for great things (I don’t have a plan 🙃). For me, the concerto competition is less about competing, but more about having the chance to perform and share my music in a more formal and advanced setting, as well as having the rare opportunity to hear many very talented, highly skilled musicians play.
Solomo Baldock - Trumpet
“Hello my name is Solomon and I have just graduated University with a major in marketing and a minor in music. I’ll be playing the Hummel trumpet concerto. My preparations for the concert have been a bit of a challenge as trumpet is no easy instrument to play in a solo for a long duration! So working on my stamina is a key focus. None the less I look forward to performing this piece and to hear all the others perform in an awesome event! :)”
Cindy Chou - Violin
Hi! I'm Cindy Chou, a violinist in her last year at high school in Dunedin. I don't look particularly friendly in the photo, but I am! I promise! I've been playing violin since I was five, and music has since become a long-time hobby of mine, over the years leading to other musical activities like learning piano, which I enjoy in its own right, and music theory. The Concerto Competition has been a very good way to motivate myself, as it's something to work towards after a stasis of no exams or solo performances. See you all in less than a month, when ideally my fingers will have a solid ✊ idea of what they're doing!
Frances Christian-Farro - Violin
I have been studying music at the University of Otago since 2017, during which time I have been taught violin by Tessa Petersen and accompanied by Tom McGrath. I am currently a violinist in the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and often get to enjoy playing chamber music in different ensembles with my friends and fellow students/orchestra members. Outside of music, I am currently studying towards a Diploma of Construction, focusing on quantity surveying at the Otago Polytechnic. For this competition, I have prepared the first and second movement of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Estio (which translates to Summer Concerto). Despite many of Rodrigo’s works being well-known and regularly performed, this violin concerto is not a well-known one and seems to be rarely performed. It is quite refreshing to play these lesser-known pieces, as I believe it gives the performer much more room for interpretation and creativity than we often allow ourselves when playing more famous repertoire. In saying this, this concerto has presented several technical and musical challenges that have had to be slowly figured out (which is a bit of a harder job when there are not decades of great performances to watch for inspiration!) I am really looking forward to listening to the other young musicians and sharing my music with the adjudicators and the Dunedin community!
Ozan Biner-McGrath - Piano
Hi I’m Ozan. I am 12 years old and am a year 8 student at Balmacewen Intermediate. I will be performing the Larghetto from Mozart's concerto in F major k413. Apart from music, I love fishing, football, karate, cricket, binge watching gory movies like Bad Taste and Terminator, tennis and video games. I have been exposed to music since birth and have been playing the piano for 8 years. Apart from the piano, I have been playing the trumpet for 2 years as a second instrument. I love making music at home, busking on the street, in concerts, and with friends and family. In school I like: Maths, P.E., Art, Cooking, Writing, Critical thinking, Problem solving, and Science. I have been learning the piano for 4 ½ years from John Colwill. Before that, I had been learning from my Dad. I thank everyone who has supported me over the years including friends, family, and you, the audience who has shown support by coming to hear us youngsters play. THANK YOU!!!!, and I hope that you enjoy the performance.
Abhinath Berry - Piano
I am beginning my final year of a Bachelor of Music degree, studying the piano with Prof. Terence Dennis. I am also studying composition, and particularly enjoy writing for orchestra in a Neo-romantic style. For this competition, I have prepared Franz Liszt’s Totentanz, a colourful and spectacular set of theme and variations on Dies irae, a well known Gregorian plainchant. This work epitomises Liszt’s fascination with death, and is reminiscent of his other works such as Funerailles and La lugubre gondola. It is my great pleasure to participate in this exciting new event and I very much look forward to performing.
Ayla Biner-McGrath - Clarinet
Hi! I’m Ayla Biner-McGrath. I’m 15 years old and have been involved with music since preschool, starting the clarinet at the age of 8. I enjoy playing in the OGHS-OBHS combined jazz band as well as playing chamber music with my friends and busking. I was also involved with the Dunedin Youth Orchestra last year and participated in the Secondary Schools Chamber Music Contest for the past 2 years. I'm going to be playing Carl Stamitz's 7th clarinet concerto called the DarmstadtConcerto, a piece that is not very well known but still likeable and interesting. Stamitz wrote the piece in the 18th century, and the original parts were destroyed during bombing of Darmstadt in WW2. Luckily someone made a copy of the piece, and my score is reconstructed from this. It’s fascinating to play a piece of music that was nearly lost forever, but is now available for people like me to play! I love learning languages and traveling, and speak German, a bit of Turkish, and learn Japanese and French. I’m currently in Year 11 at Otago Girls’ High School and my favourite class is French. Some of my other hobbies include sports, movies, shopping, reading books, and hanging out with my friends. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped her prepare for the concerto competition including my family, teacher Emily Sterk, and friends, and especially my dad/accompanist! I’m super excited to play in the competition this year and hope you enjoy the concert! :)
Alexander Sun - Piano
Hello! I’m Alexander, a year 11 student at Logan Park. Apart from piano, I love chess, eating, football, and epic movies (as opposed to Sophie’s preference of super ‘civilised’-what do you call them?-cartoons? Anime?). Everyone wants to win prizes-but I think everyone can win something from the concerto competition. For me, it is the opportunity to perform a concerto and explore epic music that was previously ‘out of reach’. Performing a concerto in front of an audience and receiving feedback from intimidatingly amazing adjudicators will be a valuable experience and improve my music. Listening to concertos only gets more exciting, and the performances-whether it’s Horowitz chilling out with Rach 3 or Yuja setting herself on fire in the Prokofiev cadenza-are just as inspiring as they are enjoyable. In the group of many talented musicians, everyone will have something to share and absorb. Preparing for the competition has been very enjoyable. Rach 2 has been a real heart-blender but never a finger-blender. I mean, Rach’s easy concerto has to be easy to learn, right? There are three whole massive solid weeks to somehow spend before I should start getting to know the piece. And I’m sure my hands would have doubled in size by then!
Cathy Zeng - Piano
Hi, my name is Cathy and aside from playing piano, I study economics and engage in various other creative pursuits. My musical journey began at a young age, when, at only a few months old, I would get my dad to lift me up so that I could play the keyboard in our Beijing apartment with my feet. I have no recollection of this, but I’m sure you can imagine it sounded pretty amazing? For this competition I will be playing the first two movements of Poulenc’s Piano Concerto (with my hands this time); though if YouTube had its way, I would be playing the Concerto for Two Pianos, as this is the top result when you type in “Poulenc Piano Concerto”. When I’m avoiding piano practice, you can find me hanging out with my numerous chickens (I don’t have an exact count, but well over twenty?) or three geese (yes, they are all very loud). I’m looking forward to hearing all the other contestants perform, especially given the range of instruments and styles (I heard some guy is playing the recorder, is that even a real instrument?)
Ellen Walters - Cello
Kia ora! Ko Ellen tōku ingoa. My musical journey started with lots of inspiration and support from family from a young age before starting violin lessons as an 8 year old. I'd like to say how grateful I am for everyone I've met along the way! I love this aspect of music as well as working across a range of instruments, genres and venues. Music can be something special to everyone, but not necessarily in the same way (or sometimes even in a tangible way) so it is a precious taonga to have in our lives. Cello was my second instrument, and it became a favourite in part thanks to playing in the school jazz band and continues to be greatly valued in my life. Last year I completed my MusB in cello performance and BA in Māori Studies, and this year I'm back in Dunedin to learn lots more while completing my Honours in Music. I'm looking forward to continuing cello with Dr Heleen du Plessis and also writing a dissertation about New Zealand women in leadership in orchestral music. I'll be back teaching cello at Saturday Morning Music Classes and also being involved with Cellists of Otago and the Dunedin Youth Orchestra. I look forward to hearing everyone's musical expressions soon!
Logan Ford - Cornet
"Hi! My name is Logan Ford. I am currently in my 4th and final year at university studying towards a BPharm. I have chosen to play Arbans Carnival of Venice for the competition which is a techniqually challenging piece and very enjoyable to play. A big challenge being a cornet player is stamina so this is a big focus for my preparation. Coming from a brass band background, I can't wait to play in the competition like this and also listen to other young musicians who play instruments I normally wouldn't listen too!"