Every year hundreds of young musicians across the country take part in the NZCT Chamber Music Contest organised by Chamber Music New Zealand. It is an event that sees a huge range of music levels and ensemble types entering. While the awards, prizes and accolades are a big part of the event with 12 groups being selected for the National Rounds – the chance to perform on stage and meet many other musicians is a large driver behind why so many students participate.
2013 participant Jeanli Boessenkool from Wanganui shares her experience in this year’s contest…
This year, I was part of two groups: the Chananel Quartet, with my brother, Liam (cello), and our two neighbours, Saskia (flute) and Johanna (violin); and the Three B’s, with Liam and my other brother Ivan (clarinet). I’ll just give you a sneak peek at the Chananel Quartet’s experiences!
We started practising our short Haydn Sonata (No. 5) in February, with practices held in a garage, where my sister teaches music.
We practised fairly regularly, but then one evening, about three weeks before the contest, we had a phone call: Johanna had cut her finger very badly with a knife. She had to have six stitches put into the index finger of her left hand. Being a violinist, this meant no more chamber music for a while! Thankfully it healed and we were able to have several practices in the last week with Johanna.
On Friday morning, we woke up for the long-anticipated event. We spent three and a half hours getting ready. We weren’t quite finished when it was time to go so we unplugged the curling tongs, and went to the Auditorium to finish up in a practise room.
Under the stage lights, although we think we didn’t play our best, we still managed to rise to the occasion. Johanna’s finger did not pop open, and I did not trip up on my laces which had managed to come undone on stage. It could have been a lot worse!
I went around and asked some of the other groups what they thought about the contest.
It was ‘Cui for Three’ from Collegiate’s first contest, and they said it was good way to get experience for performing, and a great way to show off your music. When I asked if they would do it again they said “Yes!”
‘Get a Handle On It’ was the group which seemed to be having the most fun. From Wanganui High School, all three are experienced musicians, with Amelia and Joel in their final year of the contest.
‘Seasonal Change’, a piano trio of from Nga Tawa said they were in the contest for fun and performing experience. I enjoyed their two pieces, one Vivaldi and the other Mike Cornick, a good contrast.
‘Viano goes Viennese’ have been playing together for two years. I spoke with them just before they performed, but they said they weren’t really nervous. They performed very well, and said they will be taking part again next year.
‘From Russia, With Love’ were Nga Tawa students playing a dramatic Rachmaninoff piano trio. They said the contest was very exciting, although they were a bit nervous.. After they played, they didn’t think they had done so well, but I thought it was very good, and so did the adjudicator evidently, as they were presented with the Adjudicator’s award.
I felt rather proud of my own adjudicating abilities as I spoke to the winning group, ‘Russian Roulette’, before the results were announced. Elena (cello), Fumiko (violin), and Kei (piano), were brilliant and obviously the winning combination. The dramatic Rachmaninov ‘Elegiac Trio in G minor’ showed their incredible musical abilities, especially the pianist, Kei,’s. As Elena said, Kei’s playing was just “out of this world.” She herself said she did the contest as a challenge, and in my opinion she met that challenge head-on and did a stunning job. Fumiko said the contest was a wonderful opportunity and a lot of fun. Elena hopes to make a career of music, and said chamber music was a great way to broaden her skills and form relationships with other musicians. She said she was so stoked to win, and would miss the group as it was Kei’s and Elena’s last year. Hopefully they keep playing together anyway – they are amazing!
My group ‘Three B’s’ were awarded with a Highly Commended prize (how did we do that???) while the IRMT of Wanganui Junior Award went to the Chananel Quartet! Huge smiles on our faces now, ecstatic isn’t the word for it!
Our district is lucky to have Ingrid Culliford as teacher, advisor, and backstage nerve-quencher. The Wanganui District Contest truly is the result of her hard work. She is one remarkable lady for whom we are extremely grateful!
Thank you so much for all your effort, Ms. Culliford.
Find out more about the chamber music contest at: