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William Berry Plays The Scholarship Concert In Upper Hutt Sunday 1 Oct On The Steinway At 1 Pm


After 35 years as a local council staffer both in Upper Hutt and Wellington City, and then as an elected Councillor, I have now focused my attention in a new direction as the Chairperson of the Upper Hutt Grand Piano Trust, a role which is literally that, as one of my roles is to set up and pack down the chairs for the lunchtime concerts!

Background – in 2006 a Committee was established to run a community fund-raising campaign to purchase a concert piano for the Expressions Theatre. In just over two years $250,000 was raised and the Steinway Concert D Piano was selected and purchased from the Steinway Factory in Hamburg.

New Zealand’s eminent pianist Michael Houston became the Patron of the Trust, a position he still holds, and he generously donated 3 concert performances to the highly successful fundraising campaign. The Steinway has just celebrated its 15th anniversary at what is known as Whirinaki Whare Taonga. Over the 15 years It has attracted many international piano soloists to the venue; and we have a well-established annual Classical Expressions series which attracts top performers.

A partnership has formed between Whirinaki, The Piano Trust, and the New Zealand School of Music, and for some time now students at the Victoria University based School have performed the Expressions Lunchtime Live concerts at Whirinaki throughout the scholastic year. These free concerts have attracted 80-100 people monthly and the donations made fund a $3000 annual piano scholarship. The scholarship winner is selected by the School of Music, and they perform a special recital on the Steinway. The winner this year is 19-year-old William Berry from Lower Hutt, and his recital is at 1pm on Sunday 1 October in the Gillies Theatre at Whirinaki.

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William is establishing an impressive start to his musical career. He was a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Junior Piano Competition; in 2022 he was a semi-finalist in the New Zealand Piano and National Concerto competition; and he recently won the 2023 New Zealand School of Music Concerto competition and will perform with the University Orchestra as a soloist.

William also performed at an international festival in Switzerland in 2022 and was invited back this year. Whilst in Europe he also attended a festival in Portugal. He is now in his 3rd year studying classical piano performance with Dr Jian Liu at the School of Music. Dr Liu is a frequent performer with the NZSO and Orchestra Wellington, and also overseas.

The Piano Trust is adding new genres of music performance on the Steinway with jazz, and a recent sell-out concert by Trinity Roots.

Tickets are available for William Berry’s concert at Whirinaki at $20 or $10 for students.

Paul Lambert is a former three-term Upper Hutt City Councillor; City Promotion Manager , and now Chair of the Upper Hutt Grand Piano Trust.

© Scoop Media

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