Elegant flute performance wins Graduation Gala Concerto Competition

17 May 2016
Graduation Gala Concerto Competition winner Anna Cooper.

Musician Anna Cooper has a lot to be proud of after being named the winner of the 2016 University of Auckland Graduation Gala Concerto Competition, with a performance described by the judges as ‘elegant and enchanting’.

The twenty two-year-old, who has played the flute for almost half her life -including a stint in Italy last year - was awarded the grand prize worth $6,000 as well as the development prize worth a further $2,000, before a capacity audience at the Auckland Town Hall.

Anna had good reason to feel both nervous and proud. In the audience were her parents, who travelled up from Gisborne to see her perform, family from Wellington, and her former teachers from Tauranga.

The Bachelor of Music (Honours) student who is studying flute with Luca Manghi at the School of Music, has played since she was 12. She wowed the audience and judges with her captivating rendition of Reinecke Flute Concerto in D major.

Backed by the University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra, Anna played under the guidance of acclaimed conductor Professor Uwe Grodd, to a rapt crowd.

“I’m stunned and delighted to have won,” says Anna. “I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to perform with an orchestra. It's helped to develop a different side of my playing that I wouldn't have otherwise,” she says.

Lauren Bennet was awarded second prize of $4,000 for her violin performance of Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius; and pianist Siyu Sun won $3,000 and placed third with her rendition of Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The annual competition marks the end of Autumn Graduation Week at the University.

This year’s judges were Dr Davinia Caddy, School of Music Senior Lecturer in Musicology; Ronan Tighe, Director of Artistic Planning at the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and Dr Peter Walls, CEO of Chamber Music New Zealand.

“It is inspiring to hear three talented young musicians performing as concerto soloists supported by an orchestra of their peers. And what a wonderful varied concert the competition has delivered with flute, piano and violin soloist and masterworks by Rachmaninov, Reinecke and Sibelius,” says judge Peter Walls.

Anna, originally from Gisborne and now based in Greenlane, gained her ATCL Diploma with Distinction at age 16.

She has played for the World Peace Orchestra in New York, National Youth Orchestra, Auckland Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Youth Orchestra.

Since commencing study, Anna has performed with the University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra, Wind and Flute Ensembles and co-established the student-run University Concert Band. 

Last year, Anna studied in Italy for six months and attended the Croatian Flute Academy (working with Jasmine Choi). She was the first semi-finalist from Gisborne at the Gisborne International Music Competition in 20 years.

The talented flute player plans to head off overseas to continue her study.

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