ASHLEY BROWN, CELLISTAcclaimed as a musician of “unimpeachable artistry”, Ashley Brown is one of New Zealand’s leading soloists, collaborators, chamber musicians and recording artists. He is a founder of NZTrio and a passionate advocate for New Zealand music. His teachers have included Alexander Ivashkin, Aldo Parisot and William Pleeth helping him to success in auditions, competitions and awards, both local and international. His musical curiosity has led him from an Artist Diploma at Yale to a Doctorate of Musical Arts exploring the collaborative relationship between composer and performer, and onward to sharing the stage with composers and artists as diverse as Dame Gillian Whitehead, Moana Maniapoto, Michael Houstoun, Kristian Jaarvi and Neil Finn and he continues to enjoy a musical career that leaves no colour of the musical spectrum unexplored. Ashley plays the 1762 William Forster ‘Liberte’ cello.
BENJAMIN BAKER, VIOLINIST Over the last year Benjamin has won 1st Prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists auditions in New York and 3rd Prize at the Michael Hill Competition in New Zealand, establishing a strong international presence. Engagements this season include debut recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Merkin Concert Hall in New York and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. He returns to Wigmore Hall and undertakes tours of the US, Canada, China, Argentina and Chile. Highlights during 2016/17 included appearances as soloist with the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, English Chamber, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Auckland Philharmonia and Maui Pops orchestras. He returned as Fellow to Steans Music Institute in Ravinia and took part in festivals across Europe. Born in New Zealand, Benjamin studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal College of Music where he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Rose Bowl. He was selected by YCAT in 2013. He plays a Tononi violin (1709) on generous loan and is also grateful for support from the Wallace Foundation and The Carne Trust. Benjamin will perform NZTrio’s 2018 Loft Series – Braid in Auckland, Wellington, and the Dunedin Arts Festival in September.
STEPHEN DE PLEDGE, PIANIST New Zealand pianist Stephen De Pledge has given concerto performances with the Philharmonia, Bournemouth Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras, and performed internationally from London to New York, Tokyo and Shanghai. His discography for Naxos, Champs Hill Records, Quartz, Black Box and others includes the first recordings of works by Bliss, Gorecki, and Arvo Pärt, for whom he made the world premiere recording of the piano sonatinas. In addition to his solo recordings Stephen’s discography includes song cycles by Ned Rorem and Samuel Barber, chamber music of Messiaen, Shostakovich and Schnittke and the premiere recording of Cresswell’s piano concerto. Stephen has broadcast for Radio 3 and Classic FM in the UK, on radio in USA, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, and for BBC Television. Since 2010 Stephen has taught piano at the School of Music, University of Auckland. Stephen will perform with NZTrio this year in a range of programmes: Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time Australian tour Timelight in August, the NZTrio 2018 Loft Series 2 – Braid in September, and Exotica at various festivals throughout New Zealand in October.