Alumni Reconnect: Julia Joyce, viola

This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Chamber Music Contest, so CMNZ is spending plenty of time connecting with Contest Alumni members. Our Alumni Correspondent Salina Fisher has been delving deep into the 50-year history of the Contest, and will be sharing many Alumni stories for you in the coming months as we celebrate an important year for the Contest. Salina Alumni CorrespondentSalina is a composer and violinist who recently finished her Postgraduate Diploma in Composition at the New Zealand School of Music. She was in the winning group of the Contest three times (2007, 2008, 2010) as a violinist and pianist, and is composing a piece for the Mimosa Ensemble’s Encompass Regional tour in July – August.

Here, Salina blogs about Julia Joyce, Principal Violist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, who took part in the Contest from 1997 – 2000.

Julia Alumni

Wellington-born Julia Joyce took part in the Contest from 1997 – 2000, and was a member of the winning group in 1999, The Elysian Quintet. Contest involvement runs in her family: Julia’s mother, pianist Rae de Lisle, performed in the first ever Contest’s National Finals in 1965!

The Contest was a huge turning point in my decision to pursue music at university level. If I hadn’t had this experience, I’m not sure what course of study I would have taken! It certainly had a very big influence on my career.

Elysian Quintet, 1999 Winners

1999 Contest Winners: Elysian Quintet. From left: Justin Bird, Fiona Cochrane, Julia Joyce, Sophie Bird, Victoria Simonsen

After her Contest years, Julia completed a Bachelor of Music with first class honours at Victoria University in 2004, the same year that she was the Concertmaster of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra.

In 2005, she performed in a nationwide tour with NZ pianist John Chen that coincided with the Contest’s 40th birthday celebrations. She then moved to London where she completed a Masters degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with distinction.

Julia Joyce and John Chen, 2005 CMNZ Tour

Julia and John Chen during their nationwide tour in 2005.

I’m still in touch with the others – Fiona Haughton is one of my closest friends, and I spent a lot of time with Victoria Simonsen in London as we both played in the Philharmonia orchestra.

Elysian Quartet cellist Victoria Simonsen is currently touring the country as a member of the Turnovsky Jubilee Ensemble.

At the Guildhall School, Julia was regularly Principal Viola of the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra, she was the Viola finalist in the 2009 Guildhall Wigmore Hall recital competition, and her quartet won the Guildhall String Quartet competition in 2006.

Rae de Lisle 1965

The first ever Contest Finals progamme from in 1965! Julia’s mother Rae de Lisle took part.

Julia and her husband Andrew formed the Puertas Quartet in 2009. The quartet reached the semi-finals at the 2010 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and toured for Chamber Music NZ in March 2012. In October 2011 she was appointed to Principal Viola of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and is now based in Wellington.

I’m now in a job I love, as Principal Violist of the NZSO! I feel very fortunate to be part of this fabulous orchestra especially as a New Zealander, it’s such a privilege!


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