This month, local audiences have the opportunity for a rare musical treat: a high calibre live musical experience performed by three of New Zealand's most gifted classical musicians. NZTrio comprises founder and cellist Ashley Brown; with Amalia Hall (violin) and Somi Kim (piano), who both grew up on the North Shore.
NZTrio smashes old misconceptions about chamber music. Ashley explains, “We are really about crazy mash ups of styles and genres and presenting them in a friendly way. Typically, we play some older masterpieces like Beethoven and Ravel etc, but we breathe new life into them with fresh insights and energised interpretations. And we set those into crisp comparison with some newer, more exotic works, including new commissions from our pool of amazingly talented Kiwi composers.”
Somi attended Murrays Bay Intermediate School and Westlake Girls High School, which have strong music departments with inspiring and influential teachers and mentors. She says, “By sheer luck I met a wonderful piano teacher on the Shore, Val Hungerford, before meeting Rae de Lisle at the University of Auckland. Starting trombone at Murrays Bay Intermediate School was an important milestone for me, as I continued this through high school and had such a good time and made life-long friends in the bands and orchestras I played in.
“The North Shore is a supportive safe place to grow up, with a great sense of community. Everyone is encouraging and there are so many performing opportunities.”
Amalia followed her older siblings into music, beginning her passion for the violin at the age of three. She says, “I am really grateful for the opportunities that were available on the North Shore, such as support from AIMES, while I was studying overseas and being given local performance opportunities through local music clubs and choirs while I was growing up.
“Rangitoto College was also really amazing for supporting and encouraging me as a musician during my teen years, seeing as I had a clear vision of being a professional musician once I left school.
“I was home schooled until I went to high school, so I had lots of time to enjoy local sewing, art and ballet classes. I loved learning all these different things and I have lots of happy memories on the Shore from times at the beach, although one time, I turned up to my Grade Six violin exam without my violin!
“Whenever I'm away for too long, I miss the North Shore terribly. The best aspect is the beaches, and the fact that most of my family lives close by. It is always inspiring and refreshing to go for a run at Long Bay and something that I love to do as a balance for playing violin. Somi lives just a few minutes away, so we carpool to rehearsals.”
The members of NZTrio share a strong work ethic. Ashley says, “Building a career is a long journey and doesn't happen from one success alone. It takes continual work to keep developing as an artist and striving for higher excellence, but it's so exciting to know there's no limit for what we can achieve.”
Somi agrees, saying she has learned to “accept failure as a part of success”. She says, “The music industry can be quite cutthroat and tough. Believe in yourself and your artistry and anything is possible.”
Ashley adds, “It is really exciting to play alongside Amalia and Somi. They are supremely talented players and we sync naturally. It is awesome to work through a new piece together, discovering fresh approaches, inspiring each other to take risks. Then in concerts, the overarching interpretations and fine nuances we’ve developed together are complemented by a genuine freedom of music-making in the moment."
Amalia says, “In NZTrio we instantly bonded as a group, but it's still early days for our new formation, so it's going to be exciting to see what we can achieve in the future years together.”
Somi adds, “I am looking forward to exploring all the luscious piano trio repertoire with my two incredible colleagues. What a dream.”
And for Ashley, the target is nothing less than “global domination”. He says, “We aim to break into more and more overseas markets and grow the presence we have in Asia, North America and Europe. We are developing new genre-busting collaborations and we play in country pubs, concert halls, schools and art galleries; anything we can do to convince the world of the importance of this genuine expression of art.”
NZTrio performs at 7pm on 11th December at Mairangi Arts Centre on the North Shore, and at 6pm on 15th December at Auckland Art Gallery. Both performances are followed by complimentary Christmas nibbles and drinks with the musicians. Tickets via Eventfinda and more information at www.nztrio.com.