Welcome to NZTrio’s Website

Every NZTrio performance is an intimate, dynamic and engaging ride - sometimes calm and tranquil, sometimes wild and intense. The group epitomises the relevance of live music in this digital age. Described as a ‘national treasure’, NZTrio often collaborates with international artists and toys with the borders between different cultures and genres. They smash old preconceptions of classical music being 'stuffy' or 'intimidating' by presenting it in a fresh, approachable and meaningful way. Listeners from all walks of life find themselves powerfully caught up in the music-making of a live performance.


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October 2015 High Notes Newsletter

Click here to read our latest High Notes newsletter. The clocks have sprung forward an hour - which means summer is just around the corner! In this High Notes we remember some recent touring highlights and look ahead to some exciting upcoming events; we’ll introduce you to a very special sponsor, and take a moment to answer a frequently asked question… Read on!




Winners Announced for NZTrio Composing Competition 2015

We are excited to announce the winners for the inaugural NZTrio Composing Competition 2015​.


Together with composer Kenneth Young, we selected the winners based on the strength and originality of the scores, as well as considering how authentically and meaningfully each composer responded to the brief to 'write a new work for Piano Trio that references, or responds to, Douglas Lilburn's life and work'.


CLICK HERE to see the 10 winning compositions selected for performances on Oct 9 and 10 in Auckland and Wellington, and to read more about the competition.




NZTrio featured in Sunday Star Times 9 August 2015

Read the lastest SST article on NZTrio entitled "Cannibals, censors and a $300,000 violin"...sound intriguing? Click here and read on Stuff...




NZTrio Featured in NZ Herald 8 August 2015

Ashley talks with William Dart for this article entitled "As big and complex as a marriage." Click here to read on the NZ Herald website...




Our Next Concert

NZTrio Composing Competition 2015: Winners' Concert 1

09 October 2015
Music Theatre, Auckland University, Auckland


NZTrio perform the competition's winning works (listed here in alphabetical order of composer's surname):


Alex van den Broek (University of Canterbury) - View from Mt Peel

Josiah Carr (University of Auckland) - still: waiting

Trevor Coleman (Otago University) - Lilburn Blue

Glen Downie (NZSM) - Extrapolation

Matthew Everingham (University of Canterbury) - A Search for a Language

Reuben Jelleyman (NZSM) - Analysis/Synthesis

Zac Johns (University of Auckland) - Snap

Jeremy Mayall (Waikato University) - Fourteen moments for three

Caitlin Morris (NZSM) - The Song of Cloudy Bay/Te Koko-o-Kupe

Isaac Shatford (Otago University) - Aeroplanes Over Aotearoa



Click here for more information about the competition.




John Button, Dominion Post
17 September 2015


Review excerpts: For those who have experienced NZTrio only on CD, and only in new music, this concert was a salutary experience, as it displayed their talents in music from the musical mainstream....It was huge fun – Saint-Saens seemed incapable of composing a dull note – and it received a stunning performance...the premiere performance of David Hamilton's The Faraday Cage was the concert highlight. The writing for all three instruments was both accomplished and highly imaginative, without recourse to gimmickry, yet the flicker of electricity was beautifully suggested in all three movements. There is flickering tremolos, pizzicatos, and a little playing with the piano's internal strings – but it was all to a purpose, and quite beautifully played...



William Dart - The New Zealand Herald
23 May 2015


There's a delicious convergence of the arts on NZTrio's new Lightbox CD, tantalisingly wrapped in the scuffed fluoro hues of Jim Speers' English Electric...This stunning follow-up to NZTrio's first album of New Zealand music, 2005's Spark, brings us up to date with seven works from the past decade...


Karlo Margetic's title piece is a whirlwind of exhilaration...Drawing inspiration from the processes of glassmaking, Rachel Clement's Shifting States is ingeniously tinted and textured...You don't need to see NZTrio perform Alex Taylor's Burlesques Mécaniques to be drawn into these edgy dances...Exoticism rules in Gao Ping's Su Xie Si Ti...Stapes takes us to the intense world of Samuel Holloway...Chris Gendall's Intaglio does for printmaking what Clement did for glass...Claire Cowan's Subtle Dances is the perfect closer...(Awarded 5 Stars)



Stephen Fisher
08 May 2015


...Three New Zealand composers, Alex Taylor, Claire Cowan and Karlo Margetic curated a programme of solos, duets and trios that they felt gave the audience greater insight into their own works, all in the capable hands of NZTrio...This was a beautifully crafted evening, performed by an ensemble of virtuosos already well known for their imaginative and innovative approach to performance. While the players all had a chance to shine individually, the programme highlighted their undoubted sense of ensemble, their discipline and this awareness of each other, allowing each individual work to stand on its own.



Margot Hannigan, Nelson Mail
06 May 2015


To celebrate NZ Music Month, we were offered a very different concert – a collaboration between NZTrio and three young contemporary New Zealand composers. I have never been to a more stimulating concert. It demanded all my concentration. Yet there was satisfaction in exploring new sounds from traditional instruments and listening to the amazing technique of NZTrio. How could they read the musical score, let alone play it with such intensity and speed?...What an achievement by NZTrio! The audience departed excited and elated.



Nigel Zega - Otago Daily Times
23 April 2015


Classics and jazz combined last night in a happy fusion of styles and personalities as two top trios met for a master class in musicianship...It was a match made in musical heaven, gradually building an engulfing wave of sound culminating in a sonic tsunami.



William Dart - NZ Hearld
16 September 2014


NZTrio's Loft concerts have become something of a signature for the group; Aucklanders now know this is where you can experience chamber music up close and personal, with vigorous and invigorating programming...


...The highlight happened to be the most challenging work, a 1987 Second Piano Trio by the Italian Salvatore Sciarrino. While one could be seduced by the airy weave of the strings' harmonics, Watkins' increasingly manic piano interruptions created an unstoppable fury of Futurist proportions...


...Closing the concert, Watkins praised Mendelssohn's C minor Piano Trio as the greatest work in the genre. NZTrio's performance treated it as such, from the gleam of its Allegro energico e con fuoco to the fastidious restraint of its slow movement. Best of all was the Scherzo, in which the players seemed to move beyond visions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and fairy folk, to places altogether more dark and sinister.



Will Yeoman - Limelight Magazine, Australia
07 November 2013


Stuart Greenbaum - 800 Million Heartbeats - ABC Classics: NZTrio’s passionate interest in contemporary and world music makes them the ideal interpreters for Greenbaum’s eclectic music. They don’t disappoint in a series of works which deftly juggle particulars and universals.



Stephen Fisher - Manawatu Standard
13 May 2013


NZTrio performed the works with great panache and style, acute ensemble awareness and a great empathy with their music, in a performance characterised by sheer energy and vitality...deeply satisfying concert.



Celeste Oram - Craccum Magazine: The University of Auckland Student Magazine
15 April 2013


NZTrio could easily, un-facetiously be dubbed the rockstars of the New Zealand classical music scene. It’s not just that Justine Cormack (violin), Ashley Brown (cello) and Sarah Watkins (piano) are eminently marketable bright young things dressed by WORLD that earns them this plaudit: they are one of New Zealand’s top chamber groups that offers audiences some of this country’s most adventurous programming, as well as being fierce exponents of new and New Zealand music...


...Within a generally sparse and delicate texture [of Victoria Kelly's Toi Huarewa], we were at liberty to enjoy the richly colourful sounds of both the taonga puoro and the unusual noises of the piano trio which beautifully complemented the array of Maori instruments. Sometimes the trio writing imitated the sounds of the taonga puoro, although the relationship between the two moved beyond mere mimicry and developed sounds and textures that were greater than the sum of their parts.



Claire Cowan - The Big Idea
27 March 2013


...Spellbinding from start to finish, the mix of western instruments with Maori was beautifully crafted...


...I marvel at the subtle changes to technique each player makes to make their western instruments sound more Asian folk than European classical.  It is through their skillful use of articulation, vibrato and bowing that changes the tone completely...


...By the end of the show there was no doubt we had witnessed some of NZ's greatest composers and performers at the top of their game. The integrity and skill of both composers and performers was highly admirable, the music fresh and original, and for me, the show was the highlight of the festival.



Peter Mechen - Middle C online review
31 October 2012


I came away from this concert with renewed appreciation of the Trio’s compelling and wholehearted response to everything the group performs, and of the skills, energies and sensitivities the three players readily convey to their audiences – a wonderful occasion.



Faith-Ashleigh Wong - Keeping Up with NZ
25 July 2012


A cold and wet evening soon became the beginnings of a breathtaking musical journey as soon as the NZTrio’s silky orchestral sounds filled the air. Somehow magically the skies seemed to lighten and the Q Theatre’s cosy Loft studio space started to feel warmer with each passing minute...


...NZTrio is chamber music at its best. You really have to be there in order to truly experience how incredibly skilled and talented this group are. The chemistry between them is palpable; you can tell they’ve been playing together for a long time in the intuitive way they play off each other when they perform. It really is a truly remarkable sight to behold.


So do your ears a favour, go see this trio work their magic. You will come out of it feeling astounded, emotionally moved and just bloody impressed! Do not be intimidated by the fact that it is chamber music; you do not have to be a classical music enthusiast to enjoy this concert – their music is unpretentious and highly accessible. NZTrio perform their final concert of this series in October.