Katherine Austin

Senior Lecturer in Piano
Concert Coordinator
Undergraduate and International Student Adviser

School of Arts


About Katherine

Leading New Zealand pianist Katherine Austin performs regularly around New Zealand as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, and solo recitalist. She tours frequently for Chamber Music New Zealand, and is a National Recording Artist, broadcasting regularly on Radio New Zealand Concert.

Performances in many of the country's main festivals include the International Festival of Arts in Wellington, the Nelson International Chamber Music Festival, the Taranaki Festival and the Rotorua Millenium Chamber Music Festival, of which she was a co-founder. Katherine Austin was a founding member of the Ogen Trio, the Kandinsky Ensemble and the Tennant-Austin Duo who perform regularly throughout New Zealand as well as appearing in Europe, the USA. Her work as the pianist of the New Zealand Chamber Soloists (NZCS) now occupies a large portion of her performing and concert life. The group’s numerous concerts include national tours in 2008, 2010 and 2011,  and outstandingly successful tours, to Europe and the USA in 2009, to China in 2011. to the Singapore Festival of Chamber Music (January 2012) and Europe  in mid-2012,  appearing in the Pontino Festival in Italy, the Casa dei Mezzo Festival in Crete, and the Festival of the Aegean in Greece (July). (see

Katherine holds a Master of Music with First Class Honours in Piano Performance from Auckland University, where her teachers were Janetta McStay and Bryan Sayer. She was the winner of the 1982 New Zealand Young Musician of the Year and the NZ National Piano Award in the same year. Seven years of study and performance in London and Europe included a full scholarship at the Royal College of Music London studying with renowned Russian pianist and teacher Irina Zaritskaya, as well as postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Katherine won Top Duo Prize in the 1987 Stresa International Chamber Music Competition in Italy, performing with cellist Vincenzo Giuliani. She returned to New Zealand in 1991.

Regular tours for Chamber Music New Zealand include most recently in 2011, 2010 and 2008 with James Tennant and Lara Hall as the New Zealand Chamber Soloists (NZCS), in 2005 with the Ogen Trio, and in 2003 with duo partner cellist James Tennant in the Tennant-Austin Duo.

The Tennant-Austin Duo toured in the UK and USA in 2004, receiving accolades and standing ovations in every centre, including London and Michigan. Touring Paris, London, Cambridge(UK), Dublin, Killorglin, Michigan (4 concerts) and Colombia in early 2009, the New Zealand Chamber Soloists similarly received standing ovations for every concert and return engagements, including the invitation to play in the Festival Pontino in Italy, which they took up in 2012 with a similarly successful European tour.

In 2005 the Tennant-Austin Duo performed the entire Sonatas of Beethoven for Cello and Piano in one concert and have since performed this concert a number of times in different main centres around New Zealand. Katherine Austin has given a number of performances (2004, 2005, 2008) of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with the Ogen Trio and with the New Zealand Chamber Soloists including clarinettist Peter Scholes, receiving outstanding reviews for every performance. Critic Ian Dando, interviewed by Radio NZ Concert said of their Christchurch performance "better than any performance I have ever heard, live or recorded".

Katherine Austin has performed Romantic piano concerto repertoire with the NZSO and the APO, and Classical concertos with the NZ National Youth Orchestra, the Wellington Chamber Orchestra, and performs regularly as concerto soloist with the Auckland Chamber Orchestra and the Opus Chamber Orchestra, specialising in the concertos of Mozart and Beethoven.

"..[Katherine Austin] is mercurial, alert and a supreme colourist.. I'd put her among the top six pianists in the country and almost unrivalled as a chamber ensemble pianist" Ian Dando, The Listener

"Katherine Austin's dazzling pianism is a continuous tower of strength" The NZ Herald"

Katherine Austin...possesses a musical gift given to few" The Listener

"Her charismatic temperament, underpinned by technical neatness, gives her that x-factor of a true soloist" The Christchurch Star

"...Mozart's concerto K456, with soloist Katherine Austin wrapping up every note with elegant high spirits and positively lighting up the music. Thanks to her natural understanding of Mozart's light and shade, his sudden turns into unexpected keys, and his unashamedly operatic verve, she ignited the musicians behind her into a crackling performance that ..would have impressed Mozart himself with its gleeful abandon", The NZ Herald

"Katherine Austin played with clarity, wit and style...impressing with the sheer musicality of her playing. ...She possesses that rare gift of being able to marry weight and drama with lightness and clarity" The Dominion

"Katherine Austin is a superb communicator of music and undoubtedly ranks at the forefront of New Zealand pianists" The Daily Post, Rotorua

Link: Schumann, Adagio and Allegro (one of numerous performances on youtube with gifted prodigy cellist Santiago Canon Valencia)


Chamber music; piano performance; particular specialisation in performance of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and 20th century and contemporary composers.

Recent Publications

  • Austin, K., Tennant, J., & Hall, A. (2017). New Zealand Chamber Soloists (Waipa): Works by Beethoven, Schubert, and Dvorak [Tennant (cello), Austin (piano), Hall (violin)]. Waipa Council Chambers, Te Awamutu, New Zealand.

  • Austin, K. A. V., & Garlick-Grice, R. (2017). Katherine Austin and Rafaella Garlic-Grice - duo piano works by Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninov and Busoni [Austin (piano), Garlick-Grice (piano)]. Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

  • Austin, K. A. V., & Tennant, J. (2017). Tennant-Austin Duo - works by Beethoven and Martinu [Tennant (cello), Austin (piano)]. Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

  • Lis, A., Acraman, S., & Austin, K. (2017). Une Flute Invisible [Adrianna Lis (flute), Stephanie Acraman (soprano), Katherine Austin (piano)]. Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts - Concert Chamber, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

View all research publications by Katherine Austin

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