Aus­tralia takes note of gifted pi­anist

Whanganui Chronicle - - News - By James Baker

"In New Zealand there are so many widerang­ing styles and ideas, so much orig­i­nal thought goes on here."

A Whanganui pi­anist has been cho­sen to at­tend a pres­ti­gious music school in Aus­tralia.

Liam Wood­ing will head to Mel­bourne next month to take part in the Aus­tralian Na­tional Academy of Music’s pro­fess i onal per­for­mance pro­gramme.

He’s one of only four pi­anists cho­sen to take part and the only New Zealan­der in this year’s in­take.

While he may be head­ing away to the pre­miere music in­sti­tu­tion in Aus­tralia, in his mind Wood­ing’s f eet are planted firmly on New Zealand ground.

“I’ve al­ways thought of my­self as liv­ing in New Zealand and con­tribut­ing to our pro­fes­sion.”

His forte is clas­si­cal music, and while he re­spects the mas­ters like Mozart, he has a spe­cial af­fec­tion for mod­ern Kiwi c om­posers, s uch as Whanganui’s own Dou­glas Lil­burn and Wellington’s John Psathas.

“In New Zealand there are so many wide-rang­ing styles and ideas, so much orig­i­nal thought goes on here.

“It’s not in­hib­ited by tra­di­tion so much . . . so all sorts come out.”

He would like to see Kiwi music pro­moted and pre­served for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“I be­lieve it’s im­por­tant for our cul­tural preser­va­tion.”

“Even if peo­ple think it’s not as good as Mozart, it’s more im­por­tant that it gets given a chance.

“If we don’t, then it will be lost.”

While his af­fec­tion is for New Zealand music, he’s stoked to have this op­por­tu­nity in Aus­tralia to grow as a mu­si­cian.

“It’s the di­rec­tion I want to head in, the spe­cific things that they do.”

The school teaches pi­ano in a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent con­texts, in­clud­ing cham­ber music, prac­tis­ing solo per­for­mances and ex­per­i­men­tal music. The course will take a min­i­mum of one year, and will in­volve per­form­ing through­out Aus­tralia and at least one per­for­mance in China.

“I like to try new things. I’m cu­ri­ous . . . I think that’s what it’s about.”

At West­mere School, Wood­ing was en­cour­aged to try dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal types and be­came in­volved in the school c hoir. At Wan­ganui High School, he took part in a preter­tiary pro­gramme in Wellington for as­pir­ing young mu­si­cians.

At the pro­gramme, he saw mu­si­cians from around New Zealand and felt like a “coun­try bump­kin” from Whanganui. But he soon gained his con­fi­dence.

There he met the late Ju­dith Clark. “She was well known to be a dragon, but she in­stilled a sense that what you do needs to be re­spected to the high­est de­gree.”

He went on to com­plete his Bach­e­lor of Music de­gree at Auck­land Univer­sity and is an ob­server pi­anist at the Wan­ganui New Zealand Opera School at Col­le­giate School.

His per­for­mances have been called “as­tound­ing” by re­viewer Peter Mechen. The Aus­tralian academy will sim­ply be the next chal­lenge.

Be­fore he leaves, he will per­form with Deb­o­rah Wai Kapohe and In­grid Cul­li­ford on Jan­uary 29 in a fundraiser for the Sar­jeant Gallery.

KIWI CHORDS: Liam Wood­ing might be head­ing across the Ditch, but the Whanganui pi­anist wants to see New Zealand music suc­ceed. PHOTO/NATALIE SIXTUS

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