50th Jubilee Appeal

Marcus Jackson, Composition Winner 2012, 2013

Chamber Music Contest 1965 - 2015

In 2015, Chamber Music New Zealand celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Chamber Music Contest.

We want to ensure the future of this iconic event by establishing a new endowment of $250,000.

Help to create more music

Updated March 2015

In 1972 a 13 year old Donald Armstrong (who you may now know as NZSO’s Associate Concertmaster) entered the Chamber Music Contest with an original composition.

"At the time, there was no ‘Composition Section’, but I entered this piece and they began a Composition Section the year after – and 40 years later it’s still going!" - Donald Armstrong

Donals Armstrong's winning composition 1972

Donald's original composition was the catalyst for a platform that has since been a starting point for many New Zealand composers. Marcus Jackson (pictured above) is a two-time winning composer of the Contest and has now gone on to study composition at the New Zealand School of Music.

“My first experience in the Contest was playing flute in a Bodinus quartet in 2009, which I whole-heartedly enjoyed, and can still remember how to play, but baroque music has never really been my thing. So in 2011 I turned to writing my own piece, Memoirs of a Forgotten Soul for flute, clarinet and piano to perform. I enjoyed the experience so much I wrote again in 2012 for flute, violin, cello and piano, a piece called While Dreamscapes Stagnate.” - Marcus Jackson

The Composition Section of the Contest is vital to the future of music in New Zealand and we are working hard to ensure it continues with this 50th Jubilee Appeal. This month we are delighted to report that we have now reached 48% of our $250,000 through generous donations and pledges, but there is still a long way to go.

You can help ensure that the platform 13 year old Donald's winning composition created all those years ago can continue to encourage composers well into the future.

Please help us to secure the legacy of the Chamber Music Contest by donating to our 50th Jubilee Appeal.

Natalie Tantrum (nee Nalden) performing her prize-winning composition in 1988

For the future of the contest

Founded in 1965 by Viennese émigré Arthur Hilton and New Zealander Joan Kerr, the Chamber Music Contest has a long list of talented alumni including acclaimed pianist Michael Houstoun, the NZTrio, violinist Wilma Smith and rising international star John Chen.

Shweta Iyer with Trio Provence, 2013 National Semi-Final

After more than 30 years of continuous corporate support the future of the Contest was thrown into serious doubt in 1998 when it was left without a sponsor. We have continued since then with the very generous support of donors like you as well as community funding.

For many people, their first encounter with chamber music is through the Contest, and in 2014, nearly 2000 students from 15 regional centres took part. The new endowment fund will secure and strengthen the place of the Contest in the New Zealand cultural landscape for years to come.

The good news is that we have already raised 48% of our target with donations and pledges from our generous supporters.

There is still work to do and we need your help to reach our goal of $250,000 so the Contest can continue to nurture future generations of young New Zealanders.

How you can help

Join us in giving the gift of chamber music to young New Zealanders by donating to the Jubilee Appeal. As a not-for-profit charity we rely on your generous donations. 


We welcome donations of any amount towards the Jubilee Appeal as every contribution we receive makes a real difference to the lives of young New Zealanders. 

If you choose to donate $1,000 or more you will be recognised as a Jubilee Donor in the following way:

Gold Jubilee Patron: $10,000+
Silver Jubilee Donor: $5,000+
Bronze Jubilee Donor: $2,000+
Ensemble Jubilee Donor: $1,000+

Matthias Balzat performing as part of 2013 National Final winners, Sollertinsky TrioBenefits of giving

Gold patrons will be invited to present district, regional and/or national awards and will be acknowledged on all 2015 Chamber Music New Zealand programmes and other related publications.

Gold and silver supporters will be acknowledged in all 2015 Contest publications and on the Contest website. You will also receive a complimentary souvenir programme and a DVD of the 2015 National Finals.

Gold, silver and bronze supporters will receive invitations to the 2015 National Finals in Wellington as well as invitations to special receptions and events during 2015.

All gold, silver, bronze and ensemble supporters will receive special commemorative Jubilee pins.

You can donate online now through our secure payment gateway, alternatively contact Chamber Music New Zealand on 0800 266 2378 to discuss other ways of making your donation.

Core Patron: Sir James Wallace KNZM

Gold Jubilee Patrons: Paul and Sheryl Baines, Donald and Susan Best, Philip and Rosalind Burdon, Graeme and Di Edwards, Ann Harden (in memory of Joan Kerr), Tom and Ann Morris, Roger and Catherine Taylor, Lloyd Williams and Cally McWha, David and the late Helen Zwartz

Silver Jubilee Donors: Robin and Sue Harvey, Euan and Shelley Murdoch

Bronze Jubilee Donors: Alan and Pat Gibson, John and Trish Gribben, Roger Reynolds

Ensemble Jubilee Donors: Anonymous (1)


Fifty years of inspiration

Left to Right: Bryony Gibson-Cornish, Ashley Brown and Natalie Lin

A Fulbright scholar at The Juilliard School in New York, violist and singer Bryony Gibson-Cornish is teaming up with violinist Natalie Lin and NZTrio cellist Ashley Brown for Chamber Music New Zealand’s 2015 Turnovsky Jubilee Ensemble tour.

All three performers have a long history with the Contest, each having played in winning ensembles during their school years. For Bryony it was the 2008 Contest that opened her eyes to the power of chamber music.

“I will always remember the intimacy and significance of that performance, because it was my first true experience of chamber music in the entire sense of the word.”

Bryony says that the Contest has become a rite of passage for young musicians and she continues to be involved through tutoring, performing, and supporting other young musicians.

“The contest means so many different things to different people. You really get the sense of grassroots to excellence and it’s so special that each performer in the contest, no matter what their level, will get something out of participating. With so many successful alumni in the contest’s fifty-year history, it is an honour to follow in their footsteps.”


Join us in giving the gift of chamber music to young New Zealanders by donating to the Jubilee Appeal. As a not-for-profit charity we rely on your generous donations.