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Wgtn pianists for St Andrew's Steinway overhaul

For immediate release

Wellington pianists perform for St Andrew's Steinway overhaul project

Six of Wellington’s finest pianists – Richard Mapp, Diedre Irons, Emma Sayers, Rachel Thomson, Dan Poynton, Jonathan Crayford – are giving a ‘once in a lifetime’ benefit concert at St Andrew’s on The Terrace on 24 May at 8.00 pm to raise money for the overhaul and future care of the St Andrew’s Steinway grand piano.

To have so many musicians of this calibre in the same concert gives the occasion a rare artistic interest. “The 'Piano Party' is a blazingly bold event and will be talked about for years to come," says St Andrew’s concert goer Bernard Hobbs. "Six great pianists will perform to honour and to support a now needy Steinway that has given Wellingtonians unstinted artistry for nearly two decades.”

The proceeds will help restore the Steinway, built in 1986 and gifted to the church by Jack Ilott in 1988. Since then she has ‘performed’ nearly 1,000 times, with leading artists such as Michael Houstoun, the original Turnovsky Trio, and successive generations of piano performance students from our university schools of music. Now, twenty years on, her keys are yellowed, there are chips on her beautiful black lacquer, but most seriously her action is suffering the effect of damp, use, and aging, and has to be replaced.

The situation for the Steinway is critical," 'Piano Party' organiser, Celia Lampe says. "A major overhaul must be done at the end of the concert season, December 2006 - otherwise concerts for Wellingtonians in 2007 and beyond will simply grind to a halt.”

To ensure the future of the Steinway, the Steinway Overhaul Project aims to raise $28,700 to fund the piano's complete overhaul and to allow for its future maintenance and care.

Says St Andrew’s minister, Margaret Mayman: “We are thrilled about the Piano Party. Music has been our gift to the Wellington community for decades. We believe in nourishing the human spirit through the arts and we want this to continue into the future with music from this beautiful piano.”

Tickets cost $30 and are available from Ticketek, 384 3840, or


Biographies of the 'Piano Party' pianists

Richard Mapp is currently Senior Lecturer in Piano at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington. After studies at the Royal Academy of Music he has had an international career, performing and recording in many countries. Recently he has appeared with the NZSO and several regional orchestras. He plays in the New Zealand Piano Quartet, and is a regular guest performer with other leading New Zealand musicians.

Emma Sayers also teaches at the New Zealand School of Music. She studied piano at Victoria and in Budapest. She is a member of new music ensemble Stroma, and has performed and recorded many contemporary works. She records and presents programmes for Concert FM, and often collaborates with Richard Mapp in piano recitals for four hands.

Rachel Thomson is a Wellington-based pianist, and has performed with some of New Zealand’s leading musicians. She has toured for Chamber Music New Zealand, and played in the International Festival of the Arts. She appears regularly with the NZSO, and is a National Recording Artist for Radio New Zealand.

Diedre Irons was born in Canada. She studied then taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, touring North America as a performer, then at the University of Canterbury and Victoria University. She has performed with the NZSO and regional orchestras, toured frequently for Chamber Music New Zealand, and recorded extensively for Radio New Zealand. Deirdre has given concerts in 25 countries, and recorded the Beethoven piano concerti with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. She was awarded an MBE in 1989.

Dan Poynton, pianist and composer, studied in New Zealand and Australia. A champion of New Zealand piano music, he is in demand in Australasia, Asia and Europe, and has made his New York debut. He has also toured and recorded extensively in New Zealand. Dan is in the process of recording the complete piano music of Douglas Lilburn, and the first two CDs have been received with acclaim.

Jonathan Crayford, composer and pianist, is at ease in a wide range of styles and moves between the worlds of classical and jazz, with eclectic performances of composed and improvised music. Jonathan is an established artist in New York. He has toured over 20 countries, performing with many notable artists around the world, performing his own and other peoples' music. He has recently has been devoting much of his time to classical music, writing for musicians such as Dan Poynton.


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