SEASON '18 PROFILES

Amalia Hall

Violin

Appointed as Orchestra Wellington’s concertmaster last year, Amalia Hall is widely recognised as one of the foremost young violinists to emerge from New Zealand. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Amalia has won all of the major awards in New Zealand, including the Gisborne International Music Competition at the age of 16, the National Concerto Competition and the National Young Performer of the Year.

Amalia won the top prize at the Jeunesses International Music Competition Dinu Lipatti, and has received 1st Prize and “Absolute winner” prize at the Postacchini International Violin Competition, 2nd Prize at the International Violin Competitions “Premio R. Lipizer”, and is a laureate of both the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians and the Kloster Schöntal International Violin Competition.

Since the age of 9 Amalia has had over fifty solo appearances with orchestras in New Zealand. Recently, Amalia has performed as a soloist with I Virtuosi Italiani conducted by Federico Mondelci and Alvise Casellati, recitals in Italy with Sergio De Simone, and concert tours to Mexico, Vietnam and South Africa.

“Amalia Hall is turning heads on the national music scene and beyond.” —William Dart, New Zealand Herald

Jian Liu

Piano

Jian Liu has gained a global reputation as a solo pianist, chamber musician, and educator, performing in Europe, Asia, and North America. His artistry has taken him to some of the most prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall in New York, and the Lincoln Centre’s Rose Hall. He has featured as a soloist with orchestras including the Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine’s National Philharmonic Society, the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, and Yale Philharmonia, among others.

He is a prize-winner at the Horowitz (Ukraine) and Missouri Southern (USA) international competitions and has performed at music festivals in Auckland, Idyllwild (USA), Beijing and Xiamen, Lausanne, and Krakow.

Jian is the founding pianist of Te Kōkī Trio, the resident trio at New Zealand School of Music, which has appeared in chamber series in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Jian is Head of Piano Studies at the New Zealand School of Music.

Michael Houstoun

Piano

Michael Houstoun was born in Timaru in 1952. He studied with Sister Mary Eulalie and Maurice Till, and by the age of 18 had won every major piano competition in New Zealand. His first international success came in 1973 when he won third prize at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Further study with Rudolf Serkin followed and in 1975 he took fourth prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition. After six years living in the USA and London he returned to New Zealand in 1981.

His connection with Orchestra Wellington dates back to the first subscription concert of what was then the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, in 1972. Since then he has performed with the orchestra almost every year, including an entire season as conductor in 1996. He has performed in the USA, Europe, Australia and Asia, and is renowned for being the only New Zealand pianist to perform the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas.

His awards include the Turnovsky Prize, honorary doctorates from Massey University and Victoria University and a New Zealand Arts Foundation laureateship.

Xiao Ma

Countertenor

Xiao Ma is China’s first professional countertenor. He was discovered by renowned Chinese bass Gong Dong-Jian in 2006, and made his debut the following year with Shanghai Opera as Cherubino in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, which has become his signature role. A master of diverse styles, Xiao Ma won China’s Top Ten Tenors award in 2015, while his bel canto countertenor repertoire includes Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Vivaldi and Handel arias. He is equally at home in Chinese and Western operas, art songs, musicals and popular music, and he garners universal praise for his bright, solid, yet exible coloratura, seamless integration of chest voice and head voice, and rich musical expressiveness.

Since his Shanghai debut, Xiao Ma has given numerous recitals and appearances in China as well as the US, Europe and other countries in Asia. In 2012 he made his New Zealand debut with a tour of four cities.

Roger Wilson

Bass

Singing both baritone and bass, Roger is one of New Zealand’s most experienced and versatile resident singers. He has a wide repertoire, has been engaged as a soloist by all New Zealand’s major opera companies, orchestras and choirs, and is also well known as a recitalist and broadcaster.

Roger began his professional career in 1970, performing in Germany, France and Switzerland. He has performed a number of premieres of New Zealand composers’ works, including Gillian Whitehead’s Tristan and Iseult, Dorothy Buchanan’s The Woman at the Store, Helen Fisher’s Taku Wana and the re- created Ribbands & Don Marama musical.

He has also recorded a CD The Songs of the Morning: A Musical Sketch, a recording of narrative, poems and music composed in the Antarctic by his maternal grandfather, Lt. Gerald Doorly, on board the SY Morning, the relief ship to Scott’s Discovery expedition in 1902.

Antoinette Halloran

Soprano

Antoinette Halloran is one of Australia’s most accomplished sopranos. She performs with all the major Australasian opera companies and symphony orchestras and appears frequently on national television and radio. Leading appearances for Opera Australia have included the title roles in Madama Butterfly and Rusalka, Mimi in La Bohème, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni; for New Zealand Opera, Cio-Cio-San and Mimi; for Victorian Opera, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Adina in L’elisir d’amore; for Melbourne Opera, Cio-Cio-San, Violetta, Musetta and many others.

Concert appearances have included Mozart’s Requiem with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Haydn’s Creation and Fauré’s Requiem with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic.

Since 2010, Antoinette has sung the title role in The Merry Widow for Opera Queensland, Mimi, Cio-Cio-San and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus for Opera Australia and Micaela in Carmen for State Opera of South Australia, as well as the World Premiere of Midnight Son for Victorian Opera.

Deborah Humble

Mezzo-soprano

Deborah Humble is one of Australia’s most successful mezzo-sopranos, performing regularly internationally and at home. Orchestra Wellington audiences might remember her from the Wesendonck Lieder in 2014.

It was with her 2008 performances of Erda in Das Rheingold at the Hamburg Staatsoper that Deborah first came to international attention. In the same cycle, she also performed the roles of Waltraute and 1st Norn. Deborah was a member of the ensemble of the Hamburg Staatsoper from 2005 through 2011, singing such roles as Zenobia (Radamisto), Bradamante (Alcina), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Olga (Eugene Onegin), and Malik in the German premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s L’Upupa.

Prior to her engagement with the Hamburg Staatsoper, Deborah was a member of the ensemble of Opera Australia, performing such roles as Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Sonyetka (Lady Macbeth von Mtensk), and Clarissa (The Love for Three Oranges). She has most recently performed Verdi’s Requiem at Southwark Cathedral in London.

Diego Torre

Tenor

Born in Mexico City, Diego Torre was a Domingo-Thornton Young Artist at Los Angeles Opera, where he made his company debut as Don José in performances of Carmen. With Wolf Trap Opera Company, Diego sang Rodolfo in La Bohème.

He was then engaged for the 2009/2010 season at The Metropolitan Opera to play the Messenger in Aida and Federico in Stiffelio. This was followed by Masaniello in La muette de Portici for Dessau Opera, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor for Savonlinna Opera Festival Finland and covering for Plácido Domingo in the title role of Il Postino at Los Angeles Opera.

Since then, performances have included Gustavus (Un ballo in maschera), The Duke (Rigoletto) and Cavaradossi for Opera Australia; Gabriele Adorno at Teatro Regio di Parma; Rodolfo in Oslo and Darmstadt; Cavaradossi in Florida, Karlsruhe, Boston and Finland; Don José at Eugene Opera and Darmstadt and Forresto (Attila) for San Francisco Opera. He has sung the Verdi Requiem in Sydney in 2017.

James Clayton

Baritone

James Clayton is one of the leading singers to emerge from Western Australia in recent years, and a firm favourite with Wellington audiences. In recent years, James has performed Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Stravinsky’s Renard the Fox with Orchestra Wellington, as well as Handel’s Messiah with the NZSO, Escamillo in Carmen, the title role in The Mikado and Papageno in The Magic Flute with NZ Opera, among many others.

After ten years as a professional horn player, James began his career as a singer as a Young Artist with West Australian Opera in 2006. James’ many roles for West Australian Opera have included the title role in The Marriage of Figaro and the Barber of Seville, The King in Aida, Ashby in La Fanciulla del West, Nourabad in The Pearl Fishers, Schaunard in La Boheme, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Steersman in Tristan und Isolde and Marullo in Rigoletto. Recent engagements have included Escamillo in Carmen for Opera Australia and the title role in Rigoletto, Leporello in Don Giovanni and Schaunard in La Boheme for West Australian Opera.

“His voice… a resonating bronze instrument with excellent phrasing and articulation… with beautifully judged legato and caressing of the words.” —Sandra Bowdler, Opera Britannia

Christopher Park

Piano

Christopher Park is a Bamberg-born musician with German-Korean roots. In 2014 he won the coveted Leonard Bernstein award at the Stiftung Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, thereby joining the ranks of musicians such as Lang Lang, Lisa Batiashvili and Martin Grubinger, who all started their careers with this internationally sought-after award.

Christopher has performed with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, both Frankfurt and North German Radio Symphony Orchestras, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Opera Orchestra, Spanish National Orchestra, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, China NCPA Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Chambre Orchestra of Lausanne, English Chamber Orchestra, Munich Symphony Orchestra and Bamberg Symphony, to name but a few. In November 2014, Christopher Park stood in for Emanuel Ax to great acclaim with the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra.

His new Oehms Classics CD with works by Schumann, Stravinsky and Neuwirth is celebrated in European magazines as a “brilliant recording” and “reference version”.

Orpheus Choir if Wellington

Led by Conductor Brent Stewart, the Orpheus Choir of Wellington is New Zealand’s leading symphonic choir and has been a significant contributor to choral music in the Wellington region for the past 60 years. Comprising up to 150 voices, the choir performs regularly at major Wellington venues with highly regarded musicians and soloists, both national and international.

The choir’s repertoire covers the major classic choral works, exciting contemporary and challenging music, and new works by New Zealand composers. Their singing has been described as ‘powerful’, ‘polished’ and possessing ‘razor-sharp ensemble and diction’ and ‘verve’. The Choir is committed to enriching the musical life of the Wellington community and providing opportunities for young singers through its choral scholarship scheme.

Michael Norris

Composer

Michael Norris holds composition degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and City University, London, and is currently Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of Composition at the New Zealand School of Music. He is recipient of the 2001 Mozart Fellowship, the 2003 Douglas Lilburn Prize, the 2012 CANZ Trust Fund Award and has been nominated for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award four times, winning it in 2014 with his work Inner Phases for string quartet and Chinese instrument ensemble.

Michael maintains strong links to Austria, Germany and the Asia-Pacific region. He was commissioned by the SWR (Sudwestdeutsche Rundfunk) to write a new chamber orchestra work, Sgraffito, which was premiered at the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2010. He has also had works performed and recorded by the Vienna Saxophonic Orchestra, Pierrot Lunaire Ensemble Wien, Radio Kamer Filharmonie, Ensemble SurPlus, NZSQ, NZTrio, NZSO, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Stroma, 175 East, Stephen de Pledge and Michael Houstoun.

Gao Ping

Composer

Gao Ping is a composer and pianist born in Sichuan province. As a young pianist at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, Gao Ping was affected by China’s transformation from a collective to a market economy. This transitional phase between old and new – and the productive cultural clash between East and West – left traces that would later be evident in his music.

In his recent works, Gao returns more fully to China as a creative theme. Works such as Piano Quintet “Mei Lan Zhu Ju”(2009) and Four Not-Alike for multi-function pianist and Chinese instruments (2012) reflect the appeal of Gao’s fusing of Western and Eastern idioms, as well as the expanding interest in his compositions dealing with China and its multiple pasts.

Dr. Gao is currently the Professor in Composition at Conservatory of Music – Capital Normal University in Beijing. He also holds a guest professorship at the China Conservatory. He previously taught composition at the School of Music at Canterbury University.

Andrew Atkins

Assistant Conductor

Andrew Atkins began his conducting studies under Kenneth Young in 2012 whilst completing his BMus in Classical performance piano. He has been the principal conductor of Tawa Community Orchestra since 2014. Highlights in recent seasons included Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto (soloist Thomas Nikora), Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor (soloist Xing Wang, NZSM DMA student), as well as Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien.

Andrew has been the principal conductor of the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust Orchestra as well as conductor of Wellington Girls College, Wellington East Girls College, and Wellington College combined orchestra since 2015. He completed his MMA in classical performance piano in April 2016 and has been studying towards a Graduate Diploma in conducting under Kenneth Young. Recent performances include the Kapiti Concert Orchestra’s mid-season concert with oboe soloist Peter Dykes and the Manawatu Sinfonia concert in November performing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major.