Bridging Cultures: Beethoven 250 and Beyond – Presenters

Stephen De Pledge

New Zealander Stephen De Pledge played viola, oboe and piano throughout his years at school in Hamilton, and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra for 5 years from the age of 15.  He gained his LTCL diplomas in viola and piano, and Grade 8 in oboe and violin, before focusing on the piano after studies at the University of Auckland.  He continued postgraduate study with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he was the first pianist in the school’s history to win all the major piano prizes (Beethoven, Schubert and Romantic) and the top award, the Gold Medal.  He spent two years as Junior Fellow at the Royal College of Music before continuing his studies privately with Yvonne Loriod in Paris.  He was awarded the NFMS Young Concert Artist award, which launched his career in the UK and beyond, and he now performs internationally as a soloist and chamber musician.  He has performed more than twenty times in the Wigmore Hall, and made many visits to venues such as Queen Elizabeth Hall and Barbican Hall in London.  He has given concerto performances with the BBC Scottish Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, New London and Philharmonia Orchestras, amongst others.  Solo performances in recent seasons have taken him to Tokyo, Cologne, Paris, London and Edinburgh, as well as throughout New Zealand.  His extensive discography includes works by Bliss, Barber, Messiaen, Shostakovich and Brahms, and premiere recordings of Arvo Pärt, Henryk Gorecki, Ned Rorem and the 1st piano concerto of Lyell Cresswell for Naxos.  In addition to his performing schedule Stephen De Pledge has a teaching position in the piano department at the School of Music, University of Auckland.

New Zealand String Quartet

Since 1987 the New Zealand String Quartet has been New Zealand’s leading chamber ensemble, with a distinguished record of international touring success and a body of acclaimed recordings. Much-loved by audiences at home and around the world, the Quartet performs over eighty concerts to popular and critical acclaim each year.

Career highlights have included highly-praised performances in London at the Wigmore Hall, in New York at the prestigious Frick Collection and in Washington’s Library of Congress. In recent years the group has toured to Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom on a regular basis as well as performing in Mexico, Curaçao, Korea, Australia, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Sweden and China.

The Quartet’s extensive discography includes the complete Mendelssohn, Bartók and Berg string quartets, works by Ravel, Debussy, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvořák and Wolf, as well as the premiere recording of the remarkable Zoltan Székely quartet. In February 2019 they released the final volume in a three-CD Brahms set for Naxos.

The ensemble has been Quartet-in-Residence at the New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University since 1991, where the members hold associate professor and lecturer positions. Violinist Helene Pohl and violist Gillian Ansell are co-artistic directors of the biennial Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson, regarded as one of the foremost festivals of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The three longest-serving members have each been awarded the MNZM honour for services to music in New Zealand.



Helene Pohl – First violin

Helene Pohl studied at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, with members of the Cleveland Quartet at the Eastman School of Music and at Indiana University with Josef Gingold. She was first violinist of the prize-winning San Francisco-based Fidelio String Quartet before joining the NZSQ in 1994. In 2001 she became Artistic Director, with Gillian Ansell, of the Adam Chamber Music Festival. Helene plays a 1730 violin made by Pietro Guarneri in Venice.

Monique Lapins – Second violin

Monique studied at the Australian National Academy of Music and at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore. She has twice been a finalist in the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition and has participated in chamber music programmes and festivals in Europe, Asia and Australia.  Monique plays a 1784 Lorenzo Storioni violin kindly on loan from David Duncan Craig and the Lily Duncan Trust.


Gillian Ansell – Viola

Following studies at the Royal College of Music in London and at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Gillian worked as a professional player in London before becoming a founder member of the New Zealand String Quartet in 1987. She was second violinist for two years before taking up the position of violist with the group. In 2001 she became Artistic Director, with Helene Pohl, of the Adam Chamber Music Festival. Gillian plays a 1619 Nicolò Amati viola kindly loaned by The Adam Foundation.



Rolf Gjelsten – Cello

Rolf studied cello in North America with James Hunter and Janos Starker, as well as chamber music with the LaSalle, Hungarian, Vermeer, Cleveland and Emerson string quartets.  He played professionally with the Berlin Symphony, the Laurentian Quartet and New York Trio before coming to New Zealand. He has a doctorate from Rutgers University and has played with the New Zealand String Quartet since 1994. Rolf plays a 1705 Francesco Gofriller cello made in Venice.


William Dart


William Dart has pursued a diverse career after completing a PhD at Auckland University in 1976 on the songs of Hubert Parry and Cyril Scott. Piano teaching and school teaching in the 1970s and ‘80s would be balanced by lecturing at the University of Waikato for 12 years from 1998. Working in theatre, he provided the score for Mervyn Thompson’s Songs to the Judges in 1980, as well as his own Give Us a Kiss and Away with the Fairies. As an editor, he has been at the helm of Art New Zealand since 1982 and, in 1988, founded the quarterly Music in New Zealand. As an independent journalist, he wrote extensively for the New Zealand Listener and Rip it Up from the 1970s to the ‘90s, and today is best known for his 17 years of writing for the New Zealand Herald while his radio programmes for RNZ Concert include a weekly New Horizons show, now in its 39th year.


Peter Walls

Peter Walls has an international reputation as an early music specialist. He has published numerous articles in Early Music his Oxford lectures on historical performance practice appeared in print as History, Imagination and the Performance of Music (2003) He is
editing two volumes for the Geminiani complete edition and wrote the section on “Instrumental Performance in the 18th century” in the Cambridge History of Performance (2012). Baroque Music (a volume of critical writing on historical performance practice) was published in 2011.
Peter played Baroque violin professionally in the Academy of Ancient Music back in the 1970s. He was Music Director of The Baroque Players for many years and of The Tudor Consort from 1993 until 1999. Their CD of motets by Peter Philips was listed by Neue
Musik Zeitung as one of the top early music CDs released in 2002 and received a CHOC award from Le Monde de la Musique (the highest award from one of the leading French magazines for Classical music). Classics Today wrote “Conductor Peter Walls
understands the overall period style and he obviously cares a lot about ensemble balance and uniformity of tone and colour.” Peter has been Music Director of Opus Orchestra since 2004 and has conducted “Close Encounters” programmes with the New Zealand
Symphony Orchestra. Peter has conducted many premieres of New Zealand works,including Jack Body’s Alley for the 1998 International Festivals of the Arts. In 2008 he conducted the Australasian premiere of Brett Dean’s Testament at the International Viola
Society Congress in Adelaide.
He has been Professor of Music at Victoria University (1993-2002), Chief Executive of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (2002-2011) and of Chamber Music New Zealand (2015-2018). He was awarded the ONZM for services to New Zealand Music in 2012.

John Drummond

John Drummond was Blair Professor of Music at the University of Otago for over thirty years and is a composer and musicologist. He has also been a long-term member of the Cultural Diversity in Music Education Network and has given presentations on this theme at many conferences and seminars.
He is currently the government nominee on the IRMTNZ Council and is leading a project exploring how the Institute can better recognize musical and cultural diversity.

Rae de Lisle




Dr Rae de Lisle, MNZM is one of New Zealand’s foremost piano pedagogues. Currently Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Auckland, she has produced many outstanding students, most notably John Chen, first prizewinner of the 2004 Sydney International Piano Competition. Since then her students have won all the major piano competitions in New Zealand and have also been prizewinners internationally in the Lev Vlassenko Australasian Piano Competition, the Bradshaw and Buono Competition in New York and the Perrenoud Foundation International Piano Competition.

Rae’s groundbreaking PhD research into focal dystonia, the most devastating of musician’s injuries, has resulted in specific concepts about instrumental retraining. Her PhD thesis has received international recognition and is published by Paladinomedia.

For many years Rae has been researching methods of piano technique, interviewing pianists and pedagogues in America, England, Europe, Australia and New Zealand on this subject. Her experience in teaching students from the very beginning to international competition winners, as well as her own studies with renowned pedagogues Brigitte Wild (student of Claudio Arrau), Cyril Smith (student of Rachmaninov) and Maria Curcio (student of Artur Schnabel), gives her a unique perspective on the development of injury-preventative piano technique at every level, from the beginner to the advanced pianist. Her new e-book, Fit For Piano, published in 2019, is one of the many fruits of this research. Intended as a resource for piano teachers and students of all levels, it focuses on the most basic movements needed to develop a healthy, well-coordinated technique right from the earliest lessons.

In 2015 Rae was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music.

Christy Wan Mooi Phang-Yau


Christy Wan Mooi Phang-Yau is a Malaysian-born piano teacher with a passion for piano pedagogy. She started a Student-Teacher Programme which trains Grade 8 graduates to teach piano professionally in 2003, and some of these have already became members of IRMTNZ. Christy is the owner of Dorayme Music Tuition Studio in Christchurch ( and currently has eight teachers teaching alongside her. Besides teaching and training young teachers, Christy enjoys learning new instruments, playing in ensembles and arranging music for church instrumental groups. She also runs a music play group at church for young children.

Wendy Richards

Wendy Richards teaches music at Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ) where she specialises in music braille pedagogy. She has completed LTCL diplomas in piano and flute teaching, and music education, PGDipMus and MMus, and is currently a Doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. Wendy presents regularly at conferences both here and internationally. Her current research interests include Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory, and inclusive teaching practices. 

Freya Wang




Freya is a well-known champion of Asian – New Zealand cultural activity, notably in the area of music, where she has formidable experience and networks. After her conservatory training as a pianist, Freya acquired her business degree in the US. She then worked as a business development specialist and project consultant for various international companies in the US, New Zealand and China. She established FlyingDog Artistic Management in 2018 with the aim to connect and showcase a broad range of New Zealand creativity to diverse audiences, and to find innovative ways to inspire and educate young New Zealanders through arts and culture. Her unusual skill-set, which combines a strong musical background and robust management qualifications, makes her efforts to promote intercultural activities through the medium of music efficient and effective.

Ben Hoadley

Ben Hoadley has a dynamic career as a performer and teacher on both sides of the Tasman. He has performed with a number of orchestras including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, NZSO and the Auckland Philharmonia, and appears frequently as a recitalist and concerto soloist.

Ben has taught at the University of Auckland School of Music since 2007, serving as coordinator of woodwind for several years. He currently acting lecturer in bassoon at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Ben also teaches at the University of Waikato and works as a mentor-in-schools for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s education programme and as a tutor for programmes including the Akaroa International Music Festival and School, Cairns Winter Music School and the Australian Youth Orchestra. He has presented masterclasses at schools including the New Zealand School of Music, University of Canterbury, University of Madison-Wisconsin, University of Louisville, University of Arkansas and the Guangzhou Conservatory.

He holds degrees in bassoon performance from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the New England Conservatory (Boston) and has received fellowships to the Tanglewood Music Centre, Australian National Academy of Music and the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. He also holds a Master of Music with 1st class honours in composition from the University of Waikato.


Gypsy Band, Voxnova, led by Alan McDonald, takes its inspiration from vintage and contemporary Romany and Latin music sourced from Spain, France, Eastern Europe, Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina – a truly cross-cultural merging of musical styles.


Catrin Johnsson and Rachel Fuller

Catrin Johnsson ARAM, Mezzo soprano, was born in Sweden and trained at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm and at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Awards include the prestigious Christina Nilsson Award. Catrin has worked as a principal artist for companies such as English National Opera and Opera Holland Park and in 2016 she made her debut for NZ Opera in their production of the The Magic Flute as Second Lady. In concert she has performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and St John’s, Smith Square in London.

Catrin is a Performance Teacher in Voice and Stagecraft at the University of Auckland, is language and vocal coach for Voices NZ Chamber Choir and also for the Auckland Chamber Choir. In 2017, Catrin was National Adjudicator for the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. Catrin is also an accomplished organist who began her professional career at the age of 15 years.

Recent engagements include the world première of Sit Down With Me Awhile, a song cycle composed for her by NZ composer Janet Jennings, and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra in Auckland.

Rachel Fuller ARAM, studied piano in Christchurch with Rosemary Miller Stott and then with Dierdre Irons at the University of Canterbury. She went on to gain her Masters in Piano Accompaniment from the Royal Academy of Music in London. Rachel lived in London for 18 years, building her career as a vocal accompanist, répétiteur, vocal coach and piano teacher. Rachel has worked at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, at Opera Kristiansund and Opera Nordfjord in Norway, and also with leading British opera companies including Diva Opera, Opera della Luna and London Opera Players. She has accompanied some of the world’s finest singers including tenors Keith Lewis and Simon O’Neill. She has been a regular accompanist and coach for the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.

Rachel is a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland where she teaches collaborative piano, is a vocal coach and accompanist as well as co-ordinator of piano.  Rachel is also a chamber musician and has collaborated with cellists Ramón Jaffé, Edith Salzmann as well as violinists Leo Phillips and APO concertmaster Andrew Beer.

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