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Conductors and Soloists 2024

Michael Joel

Conductor and Musical Director of SMCO

NZ born conductor Michael Joel studied at Otago University and also with conductors Hienz Walberg, Niguel Harth-Bedoya, Jac van Steen and at the Darlington International Summer School. Equally at home in the orchestra, choral and operatic repertoire, Michael has conducted  extensively throughout NZ and the UK including on the music staff of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He conducted pianist Pascal Rogé in Saint-Saëns’ 2nd Piano Concerto with the Lakeland Sinfonia in the UK to great acclaim. He has conducted many of the established orchestras and companies in NZ including Christchurch Symphony, Dunedin Symphony, Opera Otago, City of Dunedin Choir, NZSO National Youth Orchestra and principals and members of the NZSO and NZSQ in a critically acclaimed performance of Mahler’s 4th Symphony. Michael is currently Music Director of SMCO

David Kay


Born in Palmerston North and now residing in Auckland, David Kay is an up-and-coming New Zealand conductor in the orchestral scene. He has been an Acting Sub-Principal Horn of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra since 2008 and a leading teacher of Horn at many North Shore schools. He studied performance French Horn at the University of Auckland where he gained his Bachelor of Music Honours in 2006 before accepting a scholarship to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a Post-Graduate Diploma of Orchestral Training in 2007 studying with Hugh Seenan, Richard Bissill and Jonathan Lipton.

David has studied conducting at the University of Auckland, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Sian Edwards, and is has been an active participant in the Symphony Services International Conducting Program during the last 5 years. In recent years, he has studied under Christopher Seeman with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Marko Letonja and Christopher Seeman with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Johannes Fritzsch with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

David made his conducting debut with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2009 and since then has featured regularly as a guest conductor of various educational and outreach programs. In 2011 he collaborated with Graham Abbott in his popular series Unwrap the Music, in 2012 made his debut with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and also featured on the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s ‘Soundtrack to Auckland’. In 2010 he was a guest conductor for the contemporary music ensemble 175 East, and in 2011 made his debut with the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra in Auckland.

David is one of the co-founders of North Shore Youth Music, a community music program combining three orchestras and three choirs on the North Shore of Auckland. He is the Musical Director of the North Shore Junior Orchestra, a post he has held since 2002, the North Shore Youth Orchestra, since 2009, and his experience with youth ensembles has seen him leading workshops for overseas music ensembles visiting New Zealand, the KBB Music Festival, the University of Auckland Academy Orchestra and numerous school orchestras and ensembles

Martin Riseley


A native of New Zealand, Martin Riseley began violin studies at the age of six, and gave his first solo concert when he was ten. He is a graduate of the University of Canterbury School of Music and Julliard School of Music.


Martin has performed with most leading New Zealand orchestras as well as several in Mexico, appearing on both national radio and television in both countries, and has also performed as soloist in Australia, Japan, and Great Britain. In Canada he has been Concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra since 1994, as well as Guest Concertmaster with several other orchestras in Canada and New Zealand.

In 2007 he performed the Brahms B major Trio with William Eddins and Yo Yo Ma at the Annual Fundraising Gala of the Edmonton Symphony. He performed Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio at the Kennedy Center in Washington as part of an Alberta Arts contingent in 2006. He has performed the complete Paganini Caprices throughout New Zealand, and recently surveyed the Solo Bach works alongside solo violin works by New Zealand composers. He is Patron of The Piano, an Arts facility and concert hall in Christchurch's Arts Precinct. Since becoming Head of Strings at the New Zealand School of Music he has premiered John Corigliano’s Red Violin Chaconne, and teamed up with Diedre Irons for regular recitals, including Chamber Music New Zealand. He has also made the first CD recordings of some important chamber works of Douglas Lilburn and ‘Meditations on Michelangelo’ by Jack Body on Naxos with the NZSO, which won the Vodafone Music Award for best classical CD in 2015. A premiere recording of violin works by David Frquhar was released on Rattle the same year. Since that year he has also been Concertmaster of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra: he has also conducted that orchestra, as well as the Edmonton Symphony, Manawatu Chamber Orchestra, Academy Strings of Alberta, and the NZSM Orchestra. His piano trio, the Te Koki Trio, with Jian Liu and Inbal Megiddo, has performed throughout New Zealand and in Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia. Its debut CD was a finalist in the Vodafone Music Awards for best classical CD in 2017.

Diedre Irons


Diedre Irons is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished performing musicians. Born in Winnipeg, Canada she made her deut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at the age of 12, playing the Schumann Piano Concerto.  She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and was subsequently invited by her teacher, Rudolf Serkin, to join the faculty of that prestigious conservatory where she taught for the next seven years.  During those years she toured Canada and the USA as a soloist and as a chamber music player.

Since moving to New Zealand in 1977 Irons has performed regularly with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia and the Christchurch Symphony, toured many times under the auspices of Chamber Music New Zealand and recorded extensively for Radio New Zealand.  With the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marc Taddei, she has recorded the complete Beethoven Piano Concerti on the Trust Label.

Irons has travelled internationally having to date presented concerts in 25 countries.  She was awarded an MBE in 1989 and an ONZM in 2011 for services to music and in 2007 received the degree Doctor of Music (honoris causa) from Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada.

She taught at the University of Canterbury form 1992-2003 and in 2011 left her position as the Head of Classical Performance at the NZ School of Music, in order to focus fully on her own career as a concert pianist.

David Sharp


David Sharp’s diverse conducting credits include the major Symphony Orchestras of Australia, opera, chamber ensembles and education programs. He has appeared on television, film and radio, as well as on the international stage.


Recent engagements with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra include the inaugural Meditation concert Silence, the world premiere of Glyn Lehmann’s song cycle for young people Space Race, and a concert of latin/jazz music with Mark Ferguson. David has been the conductor, compere and curator of the ASO’s highly successful Tea and Symphony concert series, as well as conducting in the East End Rush Hour Concert Series, and Gigs at Grainger. He has conducted ASO Family concerts, regional South Australian tours, and the very popular ASO Alfresco concerts at Mount Lofty and Monarto. David conducted the ASO in the soundtrack to the feature film Disgrace starring John Malkovich as well as recordings of chamber ensemble music for use by the renowned circus troupe “Circa”.


Developing a specialisation for working with young people, David has conducted a number of education projects for the ASO, working closely with Paul Rissmann and the Young Adelaide Voices among others. He has also conducted projects for the Adelaide Youth Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, and the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.


David made his international debut conducting St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra in Auckland, New Zealand and enjoys an ongoing relationship with this orchestra.

Matthias Balzat


New Zealand born Matthias Balzat (1999) has established himself as an international soloist and chamber musician. His competitive successes include first prizes in the 69th ROSL Annual Music Competition, Sieghardt-Rometsch Instrumental Concerto Competition, International Wallace Cello Competition and New Zealand National Concerto Competition (both 2014 and 2017), as well as 2nd Prize in the Gisborne International Music Competition, and many more. Matthias Balzat has extensive performance experience as a soloist, such as with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Opus.125, Sinfonietta Köln, St. Matthews Chamber Orchestra, Auckland Chamber Orchestra, Robert Schumann Hochschulorchester, Opus Orchestra, and NZ National Youth Orchestra among others. Collaborations with conductors include Guy Noble, Benjamin Northey, Rüdiger Bohn, Leh-Qiao Liao, Peter Scholes, Peter Walls, Cornelius Frowein, Hamish McKeich and more.

Participation and performances at prestigious festivals all over the world include the Aspen Music Festival, Villa Pennisi in Musica, Classiche Forme, Miesbach Kammermusikfestival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Lake District Summer Music Festival, Martinborough Music Festival and Wilma and Friends. Matthias Balzat has enjoyed numerous Masterclasses and chamber music collaborations with notable names, such as Daniel Müller-Schott, Johannes Moser, Wenn Sinn Yang, Wolfgang Schmidt, Richard Aaron, Li Wei Qin, Phillipe Müller, Brannon Cho, Avos Quartet, David and Diego Romano, Alessandro Deljavan, James Baillieu, Benjamin Baker, Daniel Lebhardt, Gould Piano Trio and many more. 

Matthias Balzat is currently enrolled in the prestigious Konzertexamen degree at the Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf under renowned soloist Pieter Wispelwey, where he also completed his Master of Music. James Tennant was his previous teacher in New Zealand, with whom he completed his Bachelor of Music at the age of 17 at Waikato University. Matthias Balzat is also a member of Ares Piano Trio.

Euan Safey


Euan Safey is a young New Zealand-born conductor, pianist and teacher, and is a passionate ensemble musician.


Having completed a Bachelor of Music with first class Honours in Piano under Katherine Austin at the University of Waikato, Euan also spent two years as a New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellow under Hamish McKeitch and James Judd. Euan has also studied under notable Kiwi conductors Kenneth Young, Peter Walls, Michael Joel, and Peter Adams, and received tutelage from NZSO Principal conductor Gemma New and visiting guest conductors Miguel Harth-Bedoya and André de Ridder.


Euan’s conducting engagements include positions and performances with Opus Orchestra, NZSO National Youth Orchestra, Bay of Plenty Symphonia, Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, Youth Orchestra Waikato and the University of Waikato Orchestra, along with several smaller community ensembles. He also conducted the University of Waikato's productions of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in 2022/2023.


As a pianist, Euan is a sought-after collaborator, performer and teacher, and plays casually in Opus Orchestra and the OCT Ensemble.


In 2024 Euan is commencing further conducting studies with Luke Dollman at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in association with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Sylvia Jiang


Sylvia Jiang is a young pianist from New Zealand currently studying at the Juilliard School with Mr. Robert McDonald. Hailed by critics as a ‘gifted young pianist of genuine substance’ and ‘New Zealand’s most notable young emerging pianist’, Sylvia’s performances have been featured on BBC News, TV3, ABC Australia, Radio New Zealand Concert, Maori Television, and other notable news networks and publications. Over the years, she has won numerous top prizes at national and international level competitions including the prestigious Wallace National Piano Competition, and the Lev Vlassenko, Kerikeri, Music Academy of the West, and Hastings International Piano Competitions. 

As an avid soloist, Sylvia has performed with the Royal Philharmonic, Queensland Symphony, Music Academy of the West and Juilliard Chamber Orchestras. She has given solo recitals in New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and the United States. Other notable performance highlights include solo performances at the Alice Tully Hall, Banff Center in Alberta, Canada, The Morgan Library in New York City, The Juilliard School’s Morse and Paul Halls, The Lodge at the Hills and the Sydney and New York Steinway Halls. As a keen Collaborator, Sylvia is particularly interested in multi-disciplinary collaborative work. She was invited to be a featured soloist in The Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Miami City Ballet where she worked with choreographer Pam Tanowitz on a new commission combining both dance companies.

Lara Hall


Leading NZ violinist, Dr Lara Hall began performing as a soloist around New Zealand at a young age. Her chamber groups won the New Zealand National Schools Chamber Music Competition when she was 15 and 16, by which stage she already had extensive experience performing as a chamber musician and soloist. Lara has gone on to become recognised nationally and internationally as a vibrant and virtuosic performer - in demand as soloist, orchestral concert-master, chamber musician and baroque specialist.
Lara was raised in Auckland and gained her BMus at the University of Auckland, while studying with Mary O’Brien. She then gained an Advanced Diploma in baroque violin which she studied with Graham McPhail, thus cementing a love and expertise in both musical genres.
Lara then studied extensively in the USA, starting in the Dorothy Delay studio at the Aspen Summer School. She then gained her Masters and Doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan studying with world-renowned teacher Paul Kantor.
During that time, she taught as a Graduate Student Instructor and was also a faculty member for the pre-University programme Young Strings. She played in numerous master classes, including one given by the eminent violinist Ruggiero Ricci from whom she received high praise.
A passionate teacher, Lara teaches violin and viola at the University of Waikato where her students currently range from undergraduate through to doctoral level. Her students have achieved success at a national level.
Lara displays an unusual degree of versatility. As well as her teaching career, she is the only musician to have performed in Chamber Music New Zealand’s main series concerts variously on violin, viola, and baroque violin.

In addition to the recordings with the New Zealand Chamber Soloists, Lara has released other CDs on the Atoll label in which she is the featured artist, and has recorded for International label Naxos as a chamber musician.

Ingrid Bauer


Ingrid Bauer is Principal Harp in the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. A former student of Alice Giles (AM), Judy Loman, and Carolyn Mills, Ingrid was described as a “fantastic new find” by Musica Viva Australia’s artistic director Carl Vine (AO).


As a soloist, Ingrid has performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Bach Musica (Auckland), the Australian National Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra, the Bay of Plenty Symphonia, the Kapiti Concert Orchestra, and the Wellington Youth Orchestra. She has performed in solo competitions in the US, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, and has given solo recitals across Australasia. Ingrid has a solo CD called Dreambird.


Ingrid is also a keen chamber musician. Her flute/viola/harp trio Toru toured for Chamber Music New Zealand in 2018, and she also has a trombone/harp duo called Parp!. At the 2014 Huntington Estate Music Festival, Ingrid shared the stage with Emma Matthews (sop.), Geoffrey Collins (fl.), and the Amaryllis Quartet, among others. Additionally, Ingrid is a founding member of the Australian harp septet SHE, which has performed in Beijing, San Francisco, and across Australia. Ingrid has performed in all of New Zealand’s professional orchestras, as well as in the Queensland, Tasmanian and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras

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