New Zealand Chamber Soloists: Lara Hall, James Tennant and Katherine Austin.
The University of Waikato’s Music programme is 25 years old and there’ll be two concerts to celebrate the achievement - a variety showcase on Saturday 13 October and a gala concert on Sunday afternoon 14 October.
“We’ve come a long way in 25 years,” says Programme Convenor Associate Professor Martin Lodge, “and we’re still growing.”
In 1987 two determined women, Margaret Crawshaw and Mona Ross, got performance teaching started with piano and singing. Now the Music Programme offers teaching in many other instruments and full streams of music history, composition and digital technology. Founding academic staff included senior lecturer and co-ordinator of music Guyon Wells, and Associate Professor Ian Whalley, who today leads the digital technology programme.
“About ten years ago the University invested strategically in several key appointments in Music,” says Dr Lodge. “Every member of staff was and still is a practitioner – a professional composer, a professional performer or a published musicologist. And it wasn’t long before we added postgraduate, masters and doctoral qualifications to our programme. Our focus has always been on quality – that’s what we’re good at. All this happened through a vision, and a willingness to work very hard for a sustained period of time.”
Hard work pays off
Student pianist: Andrew Leathwick, semi-finalist in last year’s Vlassenko Australasian Piano Competition
It has paid off; in 2006 Music at Waikato was ranked number one in New Zealand in the government’s PBRF research rankings.
Martin Lodge and colleague Michael Williams founded the contemporary music ensemble Okta in 2001. It was Hamilton's first - and so far only - group specialising in the performance of contemporary classical music and is still based at the University.
This year alone Michael Williams was a finalist in the New Zealand Silver Scroll Awards for his opera Juniper Passion and Martin Lodge’s CD Toru received excellent reviews. The New Zealand Chamber Soloists, all teachers at the University, have toured Europe to critical acclaim. Dame Malvina Major joined the staff in 2012 and her contribution to the programme has been extensive in a short-time. Senior lecturer David Griffiths, known for his contemporary operas, has just returned from Italy where he was invited to compose a new work for the International Festival of Infiorata in Rome. Lara Hall leads the Opus Chamber Orchestra and Ian Whalley continues international work in the development of electroacoustic music over high-speed internet.
Dr Lodge says it’s also pleasing to see students having success at home and overseas. “We place a lot of emphasis on benchmarking what we do to a strong international level, and what it takes to achieve on the world stage. Students need to realise that more than just technical expertise is needed to be a really successful, creative musician.”
The Variety Showcase
For the 25th celebrations, the Variety Showcase on Saturday October 13 will feature top music students and alumni. The Sunday Gala Concert will feature New Zealand Chamber Soloists, Dame Malvina Major and performances by other staff. Both concerts will be held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts and tickets can be purchased there or from Ticketek.