A masterclass with a true master

During Tokyo String Quartet‘s final visit to New Zealand earlier in June, cellist Clive Greensmith was generous enough to run a masterclass with a few cello students at the New Zealand School of Music. A couple of those students share the experience…

Clive Greensmith with NZSM Lecturer Inbal Megiddo (left) and masterclass students Xialing Zheng (centre) and Alex Partridge (right)

Clive Greensmith with NZSM Lecturer Inbal Megiddo (left) and masterclass students Xialing Zheng (centre) and Alex Partridge (right)


cellist Clive Greensmith

cellist Clive Greensmith

What a wonderful experience it was to be able to play for Clive Greensmith, cellist of the Tokyo String Quartet. Three of us from the New Zealand School of Music were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to perform in a masterclass for the esteemed cellist on Saturday 15 June 2013. we each received tips and suggestions on works we have been studying this year: Shostakovich Cello Concerto, Haydn Cello Concerto in D and the Beethoven Cello Sonata in A Major.  As one could imagine, performing to a cellist of his stature is very daunting, but Mr Greensmith was friendly, humble and at times quite humorous which made the afternoon very enjoyable. I can speak for all of us that the highlight was having the chance to briefly play Clive Greensmith’s Stradivarius cello. Very few people have the opportunity to be able to say that they have held an instrument of such rarity in their hands. From my own personal point of view I was very disappointed that the inevitable winter flu caught me on this important occasion but I was still able to take away some very valuable ideas from this outstanding performer and teacher.

Alex Partridge

Alex Partridge

Later that evening, the Tokyo String Quartet delighted a warm and welcoming audience at the Town Hall with a program consisting of Mozart, Bartok and Brahms. The homogeneity of the players was immediately obvious. In the Mozart I was impressed by the different colouration of their playing. In Bartok’s No. 6, the ease with which they played this very difficult piece was breath taking. The second half of the concert was devoted to the Brahms 1st Quartet and this had a beautifully laid back feel to it which showed off the finesse of this long-established group. The encore, a Haydn Minuet, was beautifully understated and typified the wonderful playing of these four instrumentalists. This was well received by an appreciative audience and for me, was the culmination of a thoroughly memorable day.

– Alex Partridge (MMA student)


The masterclass with Clive Greensmith was fantastic. I wasn’t sure what to expect as it had only been confirmed the week prior, but it was possibly the best masterclass I have played at. Clive was very friendly and one felt very much at ease in his presence. There were no histrionic demonstrations so often the part of a masterclass of a great musician – everything was about the music and the needs of the student. We covered a huge variety of musical and technical aspects in the concerto movement I played for him, and I left the room with much to mull over and practice, and feeling most inspired. All in all, I really enjoyed it, and I hope that in the future I will get to play for Clive again.

– Lucy Gijsbers (4th year BMus Hons student)

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