Duo awarded Pettman/ROSL Scholarship

27 November 2015
The Tasman Duo
Tasman Duo members Lauren Bennett and Bradley Wood

Two young musicians from the University of Auckland have scooped one of the country’s biggest music prizes, the 2015 Pettman ROSL (Royal Over-Seas League) Arts Chamber Music Scholarship, worth $50,000.

The Tasman Duo made up of musicians Lauren Bennett (violin) and Bradley Wood (piano) were awarded the prize this week at the finals in Hamilton, where they performed in front of a capacity crowd.

The duo was chosen as the winner from 11 different ensembles nominated by New Zealand’s top music schools.

Now in its tenth year, the Scholarship provides the winners with a five-week cultural experience in the United Kingdom, including master classes, summer schools, performing at the ROSL Clubhouse in London and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and attending concerts and operas. 

The win tops off a stellar year for Bradley, who is in his final-year of a Bachelor of Music (Hons) degree majoring in classical performance with Associate Professor Rae de Lisle MNZM. He has previously won this year’s University of Auckland Grad Gala Concerto Competition and the National Concerto Competition.

Lauren is a second-year Bachelor of Music student majoring in classical performance with Dimitri Atanassov. The talented violinist has previously won the New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest in both 2011 and 2012 and was a prizewinner at the Kloster Schontal International Violin Competition and the University of Auckland Graduation Gala Concerto Competition. She has also performed as soloist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Bach Musica and the NZ Pops Orchestra.

The accomplished musicians were originally part of a trio, but became a duo after the cellist in their group was injured. Undeterred, the two changing their repertoire and continued practising.

Nineteen year-old Lauren who is a former Westlake Girls’ High School student always knew she would be a violinist.

“My parents are classical musicians, mum’s a pianist and dad’s a violinist. I started playing both instruments but always understood the violin better,” she says.

Twenty one year-old Bradley from Christchurch is also from a musical family and started playing piano aged six. He initially didn’t consider a musical career, but all that changed in his teens after hearing the slow movement in Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata.

“The beauty and simplicity of that composition made me aware of the powerful effect music can have. It changed the direction of my life,” he says.

The adjudicating panel was made up of members of the Egmont Ensemble, Ben Baker (violin), Sam Armstrong (piano) and Jonathan Bloxham (cello) as well as Professor Peter Walls ONZM, CEO of Chamber Music New Zealand and Ellen Deverall, Principal Clarinet, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Bradley and Lauren will head off to Europe in July next year.

Media queries to m.playfair@auckland.ac.nz