NZTrio thrives on connecting with audiences through intimate and exhilarating performances. The trio’s refreshing programmes juxtapose classical masterpieces with brilliant contemporary works, mix musical cultures and genres, and involve collaborations with a broad range of international artists.
Violinist Justine Cormack, cellist Ashley Brown and pianist Sarah Watkins first joined forces in 2002 and were Ensemble in Residence at The University of Auckland from 2004-2009. From the outset their artistry, intensity and approachability have captivated music lovers throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia, South America, the US and the UK. Recent highlights include appearances at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, and further concerts in Beijing and Taiwan, a Celebrity Series tour for Chamber Music New Zealand, and a special concert at the Aurora Festival in Sydney, broadcast live on ABC. In 2011 the Trio performances included international concerts in the City of London Festival as well as Europe, Australia and Asia.
The trio actively commissions works by leading New Zealand composers. More recently, their commitment to commissioning new music has expanded to include composers from Asia and Australia, with their repertoire featuring new commissions by Musheng Chen (China), Chinary Ung (Cambodia), Judy Bailey (NZ/Australia) and Stuart Greenbaum (Australia).
NZTrio regularly collaborates with leading artists from across the artistic spectrum. In the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival, the trio performed with three Cambodian folk musicians in ‘O Cambodia’, a collaborative performance of four new works by New Zealand and Cambodian composers. Other recent projects have involved performances with Finnish Accordion/Bass duo Lepisto and Lehti at WOMAD, a piece with accompanying animated film by David Downes, a work for trio with taonga puoro (traditional Maori instruments) by Richard Nunns and Gareth Farr, and a spectacular show for New Zealand Day at the 2010 World Expo with band Moana And The Tribe, singer Aivale Cole and dance troupe Footnote.
Critical acclaim for the group’s performances extends to their ever-expanding catalogue of recorded work. NZTrio’s first CD “Spark” (which showcases a broad range of contemporary New Zealand trio pieces) was a finalist for best Classical Album at the NZ Music Awards in 2006; their 2008 Pacific Rim-focused release “Bright Tide Moving Between” was also named a finalist, receiving unanimously high praise from critics and listeners alike. In April 2010, their 3rd CD “Flourishes” was released. It features the group’s trademark eclectic programming with works from Mozart through to Ravel, Arvo Part and two recent NZTrio commissions by Wayan Yudane and Eve de Castro-Robinson and was also a finalist for Best Classical Album at the NZ Music Awards in 2010.