- 2016 Blues Awards
- 2017 Masters Thesis Award
Waikato alumnus Liam Wooding (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s emerging pianists and is a doctoral student at the University of Waikato.
Liam grew up in Whanganui where he dabbled in various musical pursuits, and enjoyed piano lessons. When he was in year 12 at high school, he decided to study music at the University of Auckland. “At school, I wasn’t thinking of music as my livelihood, but more as a subject I loved,” he says. However, his choice of study placed him on a path to becoming a professional pianist.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Liam joined the University of Waikato to begin a Master of Music (MMus), where he says the environment really suited him. “I enjoyed the interaction with staff and I felt very supported – I guess it is a smaller community and that suited me better. I had space to be myself and breathe.”
Liam graduated from Waikato in 2017 and then spent three years at the Australian National Academy of Music until he decided on another educational step to PhD study. He had several options of where to study and even though he is based in Perth, he chose to study at Waikato again. “My doctoral topic of ‘New Zealand Piano Music’ closely aligned with Professor Martin Lodge, my supervisor. My own personal voice as a New Zealand pianist who is tangata whenua will be an important perspective to insert into that topic.”
Liam has high praise for Waikato’s Music Department. “The culture there is very unique and the lecturers go above and beyond for their students. I really appreciate what they did and continue to do for me. There are amazing musicians who have come from Waikato.”
In addition to his study, Liam has concerts scheduled in Australia for the rest of the year and he will return to New Zealand in January for a festival. He loves the “buzz” of performing for a live audience. “Performing feels like an extreme sport — the adrenalin rush is great feeling. I feed off my relationship with the audience too. Recognising that I am playing to them gives purpose and meaning to my performance.”
His childhood experiences of dabbling in all genres of music continues to impact his work. “At the end of the day it is all music and it doesn’t matter whether it solo, collaborative or new music, I find interest in all these situations.”
He encourages the next generation of music students to dream big, be brave and believe that there is a life to make from music. “Ask questions and if you have a problem, solve it with your teachers alongside you. Practise as much as you can, you will never get this time back so don’t take the time and investment for granted.”