5 August 2012
The Westlake Girls High School quartet of Lauren Bennett (violin), Britta Balzat (violin), Sophis Lee (viola) and Sally Kim (cello) were judged top in the country at the National Final held tonight in Auckland.
Chamber Music New Zealand chief executive Euan Murdoch says it is an "extraordinary" achievement for an ensemble to win the contest two years running. "We're going to be checking back through our archives to see whether this has been achieved before."
"Geist put on a stunning performance," Ashley Brown said. "They were thoroughly prepared but showed a real sense of spark and were performing in the moment."
Mr Brown said the overall standard of ensembles in the contest was "amazing and it was a privilege to have heard the 12 semi-finalists over the past two days".
The New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest, run by Chamber Music New Zealand, is the only nationwide chamber music competition for young musicians and composers and this year’s entries involved more than 1850 students from throughout the country.
Twelve semi-finalist ensembles – six from Auckland, three from Christchurch, two from Wellington and one from Hamilton – were selected following 15 district contests in June and yesterday six finalists – from Auckland Geist, Mentalstorm and Ararat; from Christchurch, Trio Poeme and All’Aperto; and from Wellington, Bacewicz Quartet – were named for the final held tonight at Auckland Town Hall.
Geist’s members are seasoned veterans of the contest – as well as winning last year, violinist Lauren Bennett and cellist Sally Kim have played in the competition for the past four years and in 2010 were in the Roseberry Trio which made it to the National Finals. Second violinist Britta Balzat has three years experience of the contest, while for violist Sophia Lee, this year was her second year competing.
“We did feel the pressure of being the winners from last year,” cellist Sally Kim said. “The other ensembles were so amazing. We’re just completely overwhelmed.”
The members of Geist each received the James Wallace Arts Trust Prize of $1500 and the Arthur Hilton Memorial Prize of a musical text.
All'Aperto was awarded the KBB Music Award and Dreamscapes Quartet was awarded the Statham Award for the best performance of a New Zealand work.
The composition section winners – this time two awards were made in junior and senior categories – were previously decided. Hawke’s Bay student Marcus Jackson won the senior section with his piece While Dreamscapes Stagnate and Auckland student George Wang won the junior section with his String Quartet No 1. It is the second year Marcus has won the composition section and his piece for flute, violin, cello and piano was performed at the National Final.
The NZ Community Trust Chamber Music Contest is well-known for nurturing young musicians who go on to successful musical careers.
In presenting the 2012 New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest, Chamber Music New Zealand acknowledges major funding from the New Zealand Community Trust and Creative New Zealand, and support from the James Wallace Arts Trust and SOUNZ (centre for New Zealand Music).