Photograph by Kristian Frires 2016 with founding members Ashley Brown, Justine Cormack, and Sarah Watkins
Described as a “national treasure” and “New Zealand’s most indispensable ensemble” (William Dart, NZ Herald), NZTrio is renowned for its eclectic repertoire, outstanding talent and warm kiwi stage presence. The trio smash outmoded preconceptions of classical music being stuffy or intimidating by presenting a fresh and approachable style that appeals to listeners from all walks of life.
NZTrio is a respected ambassador of contemporary New Zealand music. As a sector-leading ensemble, NZTrio holds a remarkable track record of over 50 new commissions to date (more than 2/3 from NZ composers). Touring widely around the country and internationally, as well as regular album recordings, the trio deftly showcases their commissions alongside other skillfully-matched contemporary and classical master works, proudly featuring at least one New Zealand composition in every NZTrio concert.
NZTrio has established two educational programmes that reach out to young musicians and composers:NZTrioLive! –a high schools programme thatgives youngpeople a behind-the-scenes practical introduction on how to turn their passions into professions, and the biennial NZTrio Composing Competition for tertiary composition students in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
Critical acclaim for the group extends to a 2017 Tui for Best Classical Artist at the 2017 Vodafone NZ Music Awards, two citation awards: theKBB Music/CANZ citation (2012) and the Lilburn Trust Citation (2017) – both for outstanding services to New Zealand Music, as well as an ever-expanding catalogue of recorded work. Recent CD releases under the Rattle label include Lightbox (2015), Sway (2016), and Vicissitudes(2016)– a jazz-meets-classical collaboration with the Mike Nock Trio, and a finalist for Best Jazz Album in the 2017 New Zealand Jazz Awards.
The trio enthusiastically welcomes collaborative opportunities from across the arts spectrum such as animated film (David Downes, 2009), contemporary dance (New Zealand Dance Co., 2012/2013), theatre (Massive Co., 2013), voice (tenor Simon O’Neill, 2016) as well as cross-cultural musical works with masters of Maori taonga puoro, Chinese guzheng, and Cambodian traditional instruments. They have captivated music-lovers throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia, South America, the USA, Europe and Scandinavia – the most recent highlights being a poignant tour of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with UK clarinetist Julian Bliss (2016 & 2018), and building on multiple return visits to China – a significant cross-cultural project to record and extensively tour 9 new piano trios by Chinese composers (2017 & 2018).
Every NZTrio performance reaffirms the importance of a live musical experience in today’s digital world. The group curates a powerful audience experience by pairing intimate, acoustically dynamic venues with unique and engaging musical programmes that challenge, move, and inspire.