Innovative repertoire, dynamic interpretations of both traditional and contemporary classical music, and sheer musical chops set this threesome apart. Together since 2002, NZTrio were Ensemble in Residence at The University of Auckland from 2004 to 2009. In addition to teaching and performing, the trio commissions New Zealand composers and collaborates with musicians of diverse musical styles.

NZTrio have toured extensively in Europe, South America, Northern Asia, and the USA. They released their debut album Spark in 2005, a very well received recording that showcased the trio's extensive range. In 2007 the Trio featured in the AK07 Festival in March and undertook a Celebrity Tour with Chamber Music NZ in April. Later that year they joined forces with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Gareth Farr’s Triple Concerto, a dynamic and popular work commissioned by NZTrio, and from which they have received wide and enthusiastic critical acclaim.

In 2008, they released their follow-up album (and first for Rattle), bright tide moving between, which was a finalist in the Best Classical Album category of the 2008 NZ Music Awards. Giving substance to the Pacific Rim focus of bright tide, NZTrio toured the CD in Bejiing (the Modern Music Festival), Shanghai and Hong-Kong. Their concerts received outstanding reviews. 

NZTrio brings its much-heralded blend of contrasting works to its new CD, Flourishes (Best Classical Album finalist in the 2010 NZ Music Awards), which provides a snapshot of the type of programme the group loves to perform. Recent NZTrio commissions by Wayan Yudane and Eve de Castro Robinson are very much at home among the masterworks of Mozart and Ravel, with Arvo Pärt’s lovely take on a Mozart Adagio forming what the trio calls a ‘fascinating and unexpected mix’. NZTrio toured the new CD successfully throughout New Zealand and Australia in April as part of the Chamber Music NZ Kaleidoscopes programme.


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Justine Cormack



Justine Cormack, violin

Prior to her commitments to NZTrio, Justine developed a notable orchestral career, first as Sub-Principal First Violinist in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and culminating in her position as Concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia. She appears regularly as a recitalist, concerto soloist, recording artist and adjudicator, with some recent highlights being her involvement on the international judging panels of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, and the release of a Douglas Lilburn Duos recording with pianist Michael Houstoun.

A graduate of the University of Canterbury, Justine also holds a Master of Music degree (San Francisco Conservatory) and a Doctorate of Musical Arts (State University of New York at Stony Brook). She has taught violin at Wellington’s Victoria University and held a position as violin lecturer at The University of Auckland. Justine plays an 1868 J B Vuillaume violin. Her myriad awards include a TVNZ Young Achievers Award, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an NZSO Alex Lindsay Memorial Award.


Ashley Brown



Ashley Brown, cello

In his student years, Ashley won the Young Musicians Competition, National Concerto Competition and Young Achievers Award plus prizes at the Adam International Cello Competition, Gisborne International Music Competition and ROSL Music Competition in London. His academic history includes the Master of Music (Canterbury), Artist Diploma (Yale) and Doctor of Musical Arts (Auckland), plus cello lecturer positions at the universities of Waikato, Canterbury and Auckland. He was a member of the Turnovsky Trio and Principal Cellist of the Auckland Philharmonia. These days, Ashley keeps a busy schedule of solo and ensemble recitals, concertos and recordings, and enjoys close collaborative relationships with musicians across the spectrum of genres. He plays the 1762 William Forster “Liberte” cello.


Sarah Watkins



Sarah Watkins, piano

Sarah has enjoyed an impressive career as chamber musician, collaborative partner, and recording artist, performing throughout Japan, England, and the United States. She holds both a Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters in collaborative piano from the Juilliard School in New York City, and a Bachelors from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Academic highlights include coordinating the collaborative piano programme at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, and working for several years on the music faculty of Purchase College, New York. As a United States resident for fourteen years, Sarah was a staff pianist at Juilliard, Yale University and the Aspen Music Festival.