Guest Post: Lavinnia Rae – NZCT Chamber Music Contest National Finals

The first weekend of August is a big one for secondary school chamber music students as it is the National Finals of the NZCT Chamber Music Contest. This year the National Finals took place in Christchurch and were packed full of music and excitement.

In addition to the top 12 groups taking part and being adjudicated by Britain’s Doric String Quartet, there were some demonstration performances.

Isaac Shatford won the Senior Award of the Composition Section as adjudicated by composer Philip Norman. As part of his prize Isaac’s piece (Frost and Fire for string quartet) was performed by Contest Alumni at the National Finals Concert.

Contest Alumni and 2014 winning composer who performed 'Frost and Fire' at the National Finals, L to R: Grace Stainhope, Isaac Shatford, Caroline Norman and Lavinnia Rae.

Contest Alumni and the 2014 winning composer (Isaac) who performed ‘Frost and Fire’ at the National Finals, L to R: Grace Stainhope, Isaac Shatford, Caroline Norman and Lavinnia Rae. (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

Here Contest Alumnus and cellist Lavinnia Rae blogs about the experience of performing Isaac’s piece and returning to the Contest…


Contest Alumnus and cellist, Lavinnia Rae (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

Contest Alumnus and cellist, Lavinnia Rae (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

The secondary schools NZCT Chamber Music Contest played a large part of my high school life, having competed for four years with three in the regional finals, and it was great to see so many talented young musicians getting really involved and enjoying the process of chamber music.

I’m now a first year studying cello at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, as a former Burnsider. It’s the events such as this particular chamber music competition that helped me to choose following a musical path. Getting together with a group of fellow musicians your own age and growing friendships with them as well as working on the development of your piece is a really enjoyable way to appreciate music and the hard work always pays off!

Returning to the competition as an “ex-competitor” has revived many years of memories being in the same position as the students this year, with the exact same nerves and excitement. Playing Isaac’s composition “Frost and Fire”, was most enjoyable with two other members I have been friends with through my Burnside music days so it was great putting this quartet together. We only had a few short hours to rehearse but it was fantastic to hear the sound develop into a proper piece. Getting feedback during our rehearsal from Philip Norman just reminded me of last year doing chamber and hearing what needed to be improved on by my music teachers at school.

In rehearsal for 'Frost and Fire' (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

In rehearsal for ‘Frost and Fire’ (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

After watching the semi’s and awaiting the nerve-wracking results for who was to be in the finals, I was completely pleased that my best friends had made the last stage before hopefully becoming the announced winner. Once the finals had begun on the Saturday evening, we were taken on many thrilling journeys, listening to all of the contrasting pieces, with one in particular standing out. We had the pleasure of instruments ranging from the traditional strings and piano, to flute, saxophone, french horn and even percussion. The atmosphere changed around the audience when we all sat quietly to enjoy the young musicians amazing abilities. L’arc de ciel, felt to me to be a clear audience favourite, as well as my own and I was so proud of their win as well as Eklamoré’ for the KBB Award! There were many claps and cheers once the two winners had been announced and they were beaming afterwards. To finish it off, we celebrated at the social and afterwards a quick macca’s run with my friends who had competed in the finals. Then the happiness still lasted before we went to sleep early in the morning.

The trip down to Christchurch was well worth it and I had another amazing time being a part of the chamber music contest! Getting to play in it as part of the Alumni now was brilliant and I loved getting to see the behind the scenes backstage work as well as being an audience member watching the final product. The Doric String Quartet adjudicators were absolutely lovely and I believe that they did a great job judging the competition.

Winning composer Isaac Shatford with the performers of his piece - Grace Stainhope, Caroline Norman and Lavinnia Rae. (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

Winning composer Isaac Shatford with the performers of his piece – Grace Stainhope, Lavinnia Rae and Caroline Norman. (Credit: Simon Darby, Wanaka Photograpy)

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