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Christchurch Group Wins Chamber Music Contest

Christchurch Group Wins Chamber Music Contest



Two centuries of outstanding chamber music were on show at the National Final of Chamber Music New Zealand1s School Chamber Music Contest, held at the Wellington Town Hall on Saturday night, but it was the newest music of all that proved to be a winner for four young Christchurch musicians.

In what is believed to be the first time in the Contest1s 36 year history, the winning group, the Westbrooke Quartet from Burnside High School played the winning entry in the Original Composition section of the School Chamber Music Contest, String Quartet No 2 by the Quartet1s first violinist, seventeen year old Alwyn Westbrooke.

Other members of the group were violinist Chia-Nan Hung (18), violist Serenity Thurlow (17) and cellist Hugo Smit (17). Alwyn Westbrooke1s String Quartet No 2 was selected as the winning entry in the Original Composition section of the Contest by leading New Zealand composer and conductor Peter Scholes, who chose it from fourteen entries submitted nationwide.

Helene Pohl, speaking on behalf of the members of the New Zealand String Quartet, commented on the extremely high standard of all eight groups performing in the National Final, and in particular their teamwork, obvious love of music and fine communication skills. "All the groups were winners, but chamber music was the real winner this evening."

The eight National Finalists were selected from 451 groups entered in District Contests held throughout the country in June.

Each member of the Westbrooke Quartet received $400 from Chamber Music New Zealand, which has presented the Contest annually since 1965, and Alwyn Westbrooke also received the Original Composition prize of $500, given by SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.

A major new prize of $10,000, established this year by the Contest1s sponsor, the de Croy Arts Trust, was awarded to the music department of Burnside High School, the school attended by the members of the winning group.

Trustee Adrien de Croy said that he was delighted to be associated with the Contest. "Few would disagree that this is a most important event in New Zealand1s school musical calendar, and one which is pivotal in the development of not only musical, but other personal attributes. The lessons in dedication, focus, and of the value of accuracy that are required to achieve the levels of excellence in performance that we heard tonight are learned in few arenas other than in music."

He commented on the exceptionally high standard of all the performances and wished all the competitors well for their future careers.

In addition to the winning group, the New Zealand String Quartet named two groups as Highly Commended: Policka of Wellington (Malavika Gopal and Nicola Drake, violins, both of Wellington Girls1 College and pianist Michael Keenan of Wellington College) who performed the Sonatine by Bohuslav Martinu; and By Extension (percussionists Christopher Chirnside and Christopher Bruerton and pianists David Kelly and Joo Li Kim, all of Burnside High School) who performed part of the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion by Bartk.

Chamber Music New Zealand's School Chamber Music Contest is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the de Croy Arts Trust. Chamber Music New Zealand also acknowledges major funding from Creative New Zealand. ENDS


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