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NZTRIO: Justine Cormack
(violin) Sarah Watkins
(piano) Ashley Brown
Three born and bred kiwis, three Doctorates of Music, 14-years as a committed ensemble, and one shared vision: to champion New Zealand music within a vast and vibrant repertoire, uniting sound and soul for people around the globe.
perfectly encapsulates their shared ambition to bring joyful, vibrant, life-affirming music to audiences in all corners of the world. The album comprises a rich and rewarding programme of beautifully performed and recorded music by five exceptional contemporary composers.
For more information on the composers and their work, click the 'composers' tab above.
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RAT-D064 (October, 2016)
Produced by Wayne Laird
Recorded by Steve Garden at the Kenneth Myers Centre, University of Auckland
Design by UnkleFranc
Printing by Studio Q
NZTrio management: Vanessa Zigliani (
01 Swing Shift ii. Night Flight
(4:52) Composed by Kenji Bunch
(10:52) Composed by Claire Cowan
02 i. subtle dances
03 ii. be slow and lie low
04 iii. nerve lines
An Eroica Trio
(21:43) Composed by Raimundo Penaforte
05 i. Astor
06 ii. Maurice
07 iii. Capiba
08 So many rivers
(10:00) Composed by Judy Bailey
(16:47) Composed by Paul Schoenfield
09 i. Allegro
10 ii. Andante Moderato
11 iii. Presto
Total playing time: 64:40
JUSTINE CORMACK – violin
Prior to her commitments to NZTrio, Justine developed a notable orchestral career, first as Sub-Principal 1st 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.
SARAH WATKINS – piano
Sarah Watkins has enjoyed an impressive career as chamber musician, collaborative partner and recording artist, performing throughout Japan, England and the United States with some of America’s leading instrumentalists. 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.
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.
KENJI BUNCH (USA - b. 1973)
Swing Shift: ii. Night Flight (2002, 10:00)
Kenji Bunch has emerged this past decade as one of the most prominent American composers of his generation. Hailed as a “composer to watch” by the New York Times, his works have been performed by more than twenty American orchestras in the last five years.
The music of Swing Shift is an attempt to capture the unique essence of New York City at her most exciting time of day –– the hours between dusk and dawn: the collective loneliness, smoky clubs, and the reflection of streetlights on rain-soaked pavements. It is dedicated to everyone whose business stays open all night.
CLAIRE COWAN (NZ - b. 1983)
subtle dances (2013, 10:00)
Chamber Music New Zealand / NZTrio Co-commission
i. subtle dances
ii. be slow and lie low
iii. nerve lines
Claire Cowan studied composition at the University of Auckland, and since graduating with Honours in 2006 has pursued a career in music for concert, film, and theatre. She is an experienced orchestrator and symphonic writer, having worked with many of New Zealand’s leading orchestras. Her 25-piece performance project, The Blackbird Ensemble, has performed to sold-out crowds since its inception in 2010, covering rarely performed classical and popular music by living composers.
subtle dances is a set of three short moods for piano trio. Each work features one instrument more prominently: firstly cello; then piano; then violin. The music explores my ongoing fascination with the creation of space within music. Hypnotic and meditative, the pieces present themselves as a contrasting set of interior landscapes –– passing thoughts, memories, unsolvable problems, and explorations of headspace.
It begins with a dance: a rhythmical and passionate interlocking of playful lines, but not without an element of danger and risk. Next, an elegy: the body in its slowest state. Finally, struggle: an unanswered question, a cycle, and ultimately transition –– bursting through into a new light.
RAIMUNDO PENAFORTE (Brazil – b. 1961)
An Eroica Trio (1988, 22:00)
Inspired by a broad range of musical genres that span classical, Latin, jazz, and traditional folkloric music from his native Brazil, the works of composer/performer Raimundo Penaforte have been featured at concerts throughout the world, from Brazil to Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA, and in venues such as The Royal Concertgebouw, Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, Sala São Paulo, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and The White House.
Astor, the first movement of An Eroica Trio, resembles the rhythmical characteristics of tango music, but there is no hidden intention to present this movement as a traditional tango. Maurice is a rigorously ‘notated’ blues inspired by the passacaglia movement of Ravel’s Piano Trio (the title pays tribute to the composer). Capiba, which is Northeast Brazilian composer Lourenço da Fonseca Barbosa’s nickname, is a fast movement that bears a resemblance to Barbosa’s music. The title came to mind on a beautiful Sunday morning as I sat in front of my computer with a cup of coffee in hand and my grey-and-white cat on my lap. As the computer downloaded my hometown newspaper, I could not believe my eyes … there on the screen was a picture of Capiba sitting on a chair with a cup of coffee in hand and a grey-and-white cat on his lap!
JUDY BAILEY (NZ/AUS – b.1935)
So many rivers (2010, 10:00)
Chamber Music New Zealand / NZTrio Co-commission
Pianist, composer, arranger, and educator, Judy Bailey is constantly involved in a wide and varied range of musical activities in addition to teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and as the Musical Director of the Sydney Youth Jazz Ensemble. She has amassed performances both as soloist and member of various ensembles featuring local and overseas artists, and has toured extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, and Asia for Musica Viva.
This work endeavours to portray concepts that are both literal and allegorical in nature, beginning and ending with a calm, almost meditative state, but in between its curves and meanderings we detect the gradual emergence of almost hidden movement, subtle shifts of mood, a gathering momentum with hints of playfulness, a growing turbulence, and a troubled and sometimes tormented complexity that may eventually find its way through to a flowing serenity. And there’s also the ‘passing nod' that reflects the historical and cultural influence of the various regions that may be encountered along the journey.
PAUL SCHOENFIELD (USA – b.1947)
Café Music (1986, 10:00)
ii. Andante Moderato
Paul Schoenfield’s music combines exuberance and seriousness, familiarity and originality, and lightness and depth. It is regularly performed by leading chamber ensembles and orchestras throughout the world, and is inspired by the entire range of musical expression, from popular American and foreign styles to vernacular and folk traditions, and the 'normal' historical traditions of cultivated music making, though often treated with sly twists.
The idea to compose Café Music first came to me in 1985 after sitting in one night for the pianist at Murray’s Restaurant in Minneapolis. My intention was to write a kind of high-class dinner music that could be played at a restaurant, but which might also (just barely) find its way into a concert hall.
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