IGNITE! – Presenters



Julie Sperring – Strategic Plan Facilitator


Julie began her music career as Learning and Communications Manager at Chamber Music New Zealand where she managed the School Music Contest and other educational activities. Later on, as an adult learner, she gained a First Class Honours Degree in Piano, studying with the inspiring and endlessly patient Richard Mapp and Emma Sayers in Wellington. After a few years teaching she moved back into music management firstly as Artistic Manager with Chamber Music New Zealand and then as Executive Director of SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music.

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Katherine Austin

 Head of Piano Studies at the University of Waikato for 21 years, and now teaching at both the Universities of Auckland and Waikato, New Zealand pianist Katherine Austin performs regularly around NZ and overseas, touring frequently for Chamber Music New Zealand, and broadcasting regularly on Radio New Zealand Concert. 

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Dr. Martin Riseley, Head of Strings and Classical Ensembles Coordinator, Associate Professor, BMus (Canterbury) MM (Juilliard) DMA (Juilliard)

Martin Riseley  began violin studies at the age of six, and gave his first solo concert when he was ten. After several years of study with the English violinist Carl Pini, he entered the University of Canterbury School of Music as a pupil of Polish violinist Jan Tawroscewicz.  Martin attended the Juilliard School in 1989 where he studied with Dorothy DeLay and Piotr Milewski, and graduated with a Master of Music degree, followed in 1996 with a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree. He is currently Head of Strings (violin) at the New Zealand School of Music.

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Debbie Rawson

Formerly Head of Woodwind at the NZSM, Victoria University, Debbie studied clarinet at Canterbury University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. She is a soloist, chamber and orchestral player, university tutor, and founding member and leader of several ensembles -The Zelanian Ensemble, Saxcess, The Kugels, and others.

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Professor Samantha Owens FAHA PhD BMus (Hons) LTCL (Oboe)

Samantha Owens is an Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Queensland, where her research and postgraduate supervision centers on historical performance practices and performance cultures. Having grown up in Christchurch, Samantha subsequently graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with degrees in oboe performance and musicology.

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Dr Graham McPhail  BMus (Hons), DipTchg, MMus, AIRMTNZ

Graham is a senior lecturer in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, at the University of Auckland. He took up this position in 2015 after twenty years of work in the secondary education sector including three years as the National Moderator for NCEA Music. His current research is centered on the role of knowledge in the curriculum, in particular within C21schooling and music education contexts.

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Benjamin Lau BMus, BA, Dip Tch (Secondary)

Benjamin Lau BMus, BA, Dip Tch (Secondary)Ben Lau is the Head of Music at Newlands College in Wellington, the Chair of MENZA (Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa) and teaches Violin and Viola privately. He has over 15 years of experience teaching at the secondary school level, has been involved with MENZA since 2019 and violin teaching since the early 2000s. Ben is keenly interested in Taonga Puoro and has been creating his own since 2019. With his learned knowledge of creating Taonga Puoro, he has been trying to apply the principles of Te ao Māori and Mātauranga Māori inside and outside his classroom.    Read more…

Kinga Krupa MMA, BMus(Hons), BA(Hons), AIRMTNZ

Kinga Krupa is a classical pianist and music educator, with over 15 years of experience performing throughout Europe and New Zealand. Growing up as a young piano student in a high-pressure Polish system, she suffered greatly from Music Performance Anxiety. This struggle has prompted her to research and understand this field further and would like to share this knowledge in order to benefit performers, teachers, and their students.

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Rachel Thomson enjoys a varied career as a chamber musician, teacher and collaborative pianist. She began her piano studies with her mother before continuing with Judith Clark, going on to complete a B.Mus (Hons) and a BA in English Literature at Victoria University. As a recipient of both an Arts Council grant and a Fulbright Graduate Award, she went on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music, gaining a Masters then Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance.

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Alex Vaatstra

Alex Vaatstra, a dedicated violin and viola teacher and player, began learning the violin as a child in Australia. His family moved to Aotearoa in the 90s, and he studied with Kevin Lefohn and Tessa Peterson at Otago University in the early 2000s.
Highlights of his university years included concerto performances with Dunedin orchestras and many masterclasses with artist teachers including Schlomo Mintz.

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