Sixteen Strings. Photo from RNZ.

Report from RNZ
Wellington string quartet Sixteen Strings won the NZCT annual chamber music contest Grand Final in Auckland over the weekend. Sixteen Strings is violinists Toloa Faraimo and Shanita Sungsuwan, violist Peter Gjelsten and Emma Ravens, cello.

Six ensembles selected from across the country performed in the Grand Final at the Auckland Town Hall. The competition was adjudicated by pianist Diedre Irons, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Principal Oboe Robert Orr and Ashley Brown from the NZ Trio.

Virtuoso Strings Octet. Photo from RNZ

The People’s Choice Award went to Virtuoso Strings Octet from Wellington for their performance of Craig Utting’s Goodnight Kiwi.

The Best Performance of a New Zealand work went to Farr-Out Trio from Northland who played Gareth Farr’s Ahi (Fire in Te Reo Māori).

Half of the works in the Grand Final were New Zealand works, including two pieces written especially for the competition. Quartetto Maduro from Canterbury played Real Mature for four violins by Isaac Shatford and Virtuoso Strings Octet from Wellington played Goodnight Kiwi by Craig Utting. This piece, played in memory of a former Virtuoso Strings Orchestra member, used themes from the Maori waiata Hine e Hine and ended with the haunting vocals of Jillian Tupuse, who also played viola.

The competition also fosters young New Zealand composers. The prize for Senior Original Composition Award went to Emmanuel Samuel Wong from Wellington for Cantata for the 5th Week of Lent and the Junior Composition Award went to Daniel Minh Kit Tran from Auckland for Fantasia, based on imaginative ocean scenes.

Shona Scott was the recipient of the Marie Vandewart Memorial Award for outstanding service and commitment to fostering the love of chamber music. Shona has an advertising and marketing background and is currently in a leadership role with Whangarei Music Society. Her long involvement with the arts has included: Director of Auckland Festival, concert reviewer, and Executive Director of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation.

The Chamber Music Contest has been showcasing New Zealand’s young musicians for more than half a century and many contestants go on to pursue music professionally. It is the only contest of its kind in the world.