Guest Post: Natalie Lin – NZCT Chamber Music Contest Alumnus

The months of June, July and August are always packed full of secondary school chamber music activity here in NZ. These are the months that Chamber Music New Zealand holds the annual NZCT Chamber Music Contest. Next year the event celebrates its 50th and so CMNZ is spending plenty of time connecting with contest alumni members. It just so happens that one of these alumni members was in New Zealand over June and July and so we welcomed her back into the contest fold. This time however as a mentor and panellist!

Natalie Lin is a violinist studying for her Doctoral degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. She won the NZCT Chamber Music Contest with her piano quartet in 2005 and more recently received 6th prize and the Audience Choice Award at the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, becoming the first New Zealander in 10 years to be a prizewinner.

Here is her blog post from her time back in NZ…

I am just wrapping up my month back home in New Zealand, where we have been experiencing some of the gustiest winds in history! Earlier in my trip I had the opportunity to travel down to the windiest city in the world, Wellington, as well as the nearby town of Wanganui.

Windmills spotted flying out of Wellington.

Windmills spotted, flying out of Wellington.

New Zealand has a long-steeped tradition of chamber music making, with virtually every musician emerging from the country having competed in the CMNZ Chamber Music Contest during their high school years. The nationwide participation of kiwis in this Contest, dating back to 1965, is remarkable. Students across the country are given the opportunity to play music with one another, and compete regardless of level. I’m proud to be an alumnus and past winner of the Contest — along with the likes of John Chen and Wilma Smith – through which I was trained quite vigorously in the skills of chamber music making.

In Wanganui, I had the chance to meet and hear some of this year’s chamber music contestants at the Contest’s Regional Showcase. As part of the day’s events, violist and fellow kiwi-in-America, Bryony Gibson-Cornish, and I gave talks about our own musical journeys, from our Contest-days till now. We then sat on the panel for the groups’ performances, giving feedback to the young musicians. (The tables have turned!!!)

Bryony and I talking with high school students.

Bryony and I talking with high school students.

The following day, I stuck around and gave a workshop and masterclass to the local violinists in Wanganui. It was wonderful to meet keen violinists from a broad spectrum of backgrounds: from a violin teacher, to an amateur and full-time-veterinarian, to a doctor, to several promising high school students. A colorful mix, and a pleasure to spend time with kiwis making music!

On the judge's panel, and post-masterclass with participants Oliver and Puai.

On the judge’s panel, and post-masterclass with participants Oliver and Puai.

Wellington book-ended my time in Wanganui, and in the Capital I assisted in giving Nikki Chooi‘s pre-concert talk, played Mahler 1 with the NZSO for a concert cycle, provided some nice tunes at an event at Parliament, visited plenty of cafes, and felt some pretty alarming gusts from my third-floor hotel room!

More cafes than street corners in NZ... or so it seems!

More cafes than street corners in NZ… or so it seems!

Back to the USA at the end of the week — till next time, NZ!

(PS. Stay tuned for next year’s 50th Anniversary celebrations for the Chamber Music Contest!)

Check out Natalie’s blog and website:


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