Playing all over the world

12 October 2017

Santiago Cañón-Valencia and Edward King.

Two University of Waikato alumni, cellists Santiago Cañón-Valencia and Edward King, are now firmly established on the international music circuit.

Santi, now 22, came to Hamilton from Colombia when he was 11 to learn privately from Waikato University’s cello teacher James Tennant. He enrolled at university aged 14 to study what was then the newly created Soloist Stream specialisation course.

Since then Santi has gone on to place or win a string of national and international competitions. This year he came third in the final of the 2017 Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition, winning €17,000 and concert opportunities. It places him in the top three cellists in the world under 33.  Go to to hear Santi playing Shostakovich’s Concerto No 1.

Santi is currently pursuing a master's degree at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar Germany, under Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt. He is a previous winner of the Beijing International Competition, the Johansen International Competition, the Cassado Competition, the Pablo Casals Competition, the Monini Prize at the Festival di Spoleto, and the Prieto Competition in Mexico, open to cellists of all nationalities under the age of 34.

He has performed in recital and as a soloist with orchestras throughout Australasia, South America, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Europe, China, Japan and Russia. Santi has been a guest artist several times at the Cartagena International Music Festival and last year was one of eight cellists selected worldwide to attend the Verbier Festival Academy 2016.

Santi’s debut CD of solo 20th century works has been internationally acclaimed by The Strad magazine and others. Since then he has released two new recordings of Russian cello sonatas and popular pieces with University of Waikato pianist and teacher Katherine Austin.

Meanwhile Edward King will hear shortly whether he has a permanent place as associate principal cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Next year he will be performing concerts with Katherine Austin in New Zealand, Australia, England and Scotland.

Edward graduated from Waikato with a Bachelor of Music (Hons) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Performance. He then headed to Germany to study at the Leopold Mozart Center (Augsburg), and the University of the Arts in Berlin and he also studied with Wolfgang Schmidt. He now maintains a busy schedule of concerts and festival appearances.

Edward is a laureate of the Witold Lutoslawski International Cello Competition and the Markneukirchen International Competition, and also won a special prize at the International Penderecki Cello Competition for his interpretation of Penderecki’s Divertimento – presented personally by the renowned composer.