Justin Bird is a widely acclaimed pianist and teacher, whose fresh interpretations include an affinity for underrated repertoire. He has won the New Zealand Kapiti Coast International Piano Competition, and was awarded the NZ Young Performer of the Year for piano. Other awards have been finalist in the NZ Young Musician of the year Competition, MTNA National Young Artist Competition in the USA, and representing New Zealand in the finals of the Kowhai Australasian Piano Concerto Competition. Justin has had the privilege to appear with many college and youth orchestras, as well as the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
As a young pianist Justin studied with Rae de Lisle, then Bryan Sayer at the University of Auckland. Continuing his studies in the USA with Read Gainsford at Ithaca College and Florida State University, and Marian Hahn at the Peabody Institute, Justin then moved to Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music to complete a Doctorate in Music studying with André Watts. Justin has been sharing his love for music since the nineties, always maintaining a private studio wherever he lives, as well as teaching class piano in many different colleges and schools. After his Associate Instructorship at IU, he taught at Vincennes University as Adjunct Faculty, and was then appointed as Artist Faculty at Omaha Conservatory of Music in Nebraska.
Now living again in New Zealand, he teaches a full studio of pianists in Auckland, performs piano, violin, and viola with various orchestras and ensembles, and services and tunes pianos.
Dr Lara Hall Leading NZ violinist, began performing as soloist around New Zealand at a very early age, having won the New Zealand National Schools Chamber Music Competition at age 15 and 16. Lara has gone on to become recognised nationally and internationally as a vibrant and virtuosic performer - in demand equally as soloist, orchestral concert-master, chamber musician and baroque specialist.
Lara was raised in Auckland and gained her BMus at the University of Auckland, while studying with Mary O’Brien, and then an Advanced Diploma in baroque violin, which she studied with Graham McPhail, thus cementing a love and expertise in both musical genres.
Lara then studied extensively in the USA, starting in the Dorothy Delay studio at the Aspen Summer School. She then gained her Masters and Doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan where she studied with Paul Kantor and Yehonatan Berick. During that time, she taught as a Graduate Student Instructor and was also a faculty member for the pre-University programme Young Strings. She attended numerous master classes, including one given by the eminent violinist Ruggiero Ricci from whom she received high praise.
A passionate teacher, Lara is lecturer at the University of Waikato, teaching violin and viola. Her students have achieved success at a national level.
Lara displays an unusual degree of versatility. As well as her teaching career, she is the only musician to have performed in Chamber Music New Zealand’s main series concerts variously on violin, viola, and baroque violin.
In addition to the recordings with the New Zealand Chamber Soloists, Lara has released two other CDs on the Atoll label, with two future releases imminent.
While her work as chamber musician and baroque period instrumentalist are two very different aspects of her work, one of her CDs (Telemann’s Fantasias for solo violin) deliberately sets out to demonstrate stylistic influence that modern violin performance can take from the period instrument movement. Her CD of instrumental concerti accompanied by the period instrument ensemble NZ Barok is the first of its kind to be recorded in New Zealand.
Concertmaster of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty’s Opus orchestra since 2006, Lara has been leader of numerous other orchestras including the National Youth Orchestra, the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Amy Wang New York clarinetist Amy Wang is a multifaceted artist. Her musical background ranges from classical to contemporary with an expressive and dynamic sound that is rapidly creating a name for herself internationally. She is the co-founder of Sonora Collective and performed as a chamber musician and orchestral clarinetist in New York City. A native of New Zealand, Amy moved back to Auckland due to the pandemic. Since then, she has been performing with the Auckland Philharmonia and is the principal clarinetist for the Opus Orchestra in Waikato and Hawkes Bay Symphony.
Recent performances include guest appearances with the Grammy-nominated woodwind quintet, Imani Winds; with the International Contemporary Ensemble as part of Kaija Saariaho's La Passion de Simone New York premiere at the Gerald Lynch Theater in New York City; with the Martha Graham Dance Company's 90th Anniversary Gala and Sacred/Profane at New York City Center, with world-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli's Incanto tour in Lima National Stadium in South America and chamber recitals in Carnegie Hall.
She has performed at venues including Lincoln Center, David Geffen Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, New York City Center, Sydney Opera House, among others.
As an orchestral musician, Amy has performed with Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, Loft Opera, Bare Opera, Regina Opera Company, Fresh Squeezed Opera Company, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and Auckland Philharmonia. She was the clarinet fellow at National Orchestra Institute and Pierre Monteux Music Festival. Equally at home with New Music, Amy performed the New York premiere of Bound by Huang Ruo with Fresh Squeezed Opera and La Passione de Simone by Kaija Saariaho with International Contemporary Ensemble and French theatre company, La Chambre aux Échos.
In 2019 Amy co-founded Sonora Collective along with violinist Julia Danitz and Flautist Katie Althen. Sonora an artist-driven collective that is committed to creating multidisciplinary performance experiences bridging music, visual art, design, and beyond. Most recently, Sonora Collective collaborated with Fort Makers gallery and the New York-based Cultural Counsel for the exhibit PUFFY by designer Naomi S. Clark. This sold-out event was featured in Time Out magazine. Past projects include collaboration with Sotheby's International Realty and fashion designer Sienna Li at The Crown Penthouse in New York City.
A firm believer in sharing her talent and passion for education, Amy maintains a private clarinet and piano studio where she teaches students from 4 to over 18 and is clarinet faculty at Diller-Quaile School of Music. Her students have achieved high scores on NYSSMA, ABRSM, and have been awarded admission to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts along with various summer music festivals.
Born in China and raised in New Zealand, Amy holds a Master of Music and Professional Studies Degree from Mannes College The New School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Eastman School of Music. She is also a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. Her principal teachers include Nathan Williams, Kenneth Grant, and Charles Neidich. She is grateful for additional tutelage from Ricardo Morales from the Philadelphia Orchestra, David Krakauer, and Ayako Oshima.