Creative Arts and Industries

Music students

School of Music graduates who have achieved national and international recognition include sopranos Margaret Medlyn and Morag Atchison, concert pianist John Chen, flautist Alexa Still, and composers Eve de Castro-Robinson, Gillian Whitehead and John Rimmer. Here, some current postgraduate students and recent graduates share their experiences.

Image of Gemma Lee sitting at a piano.

Gemma Lee

“I came here to develop my own voice as a musician, and my studies at the University of Auckland have definitely helped me achieve this. I've loved having world-class musicians tutor and mentor us for the real world. It has been inspiring and humbling to learn from and collaborative with the very best in the field. 

“There are opportunities everywhere if you look for them, such as regular lunchtime concerts and various competitions across different departments.

“I plan on continuing my postgraduate studies at the University of Auckland with a masters degree under the tutelage of Stephen De Pledge. After I graduate, I want to travel to the United Kingdom and gain more experience as a collaborative pianist.”

Gemma Lee is currently studying for a Bachelor of Music with Honours (BMus(Hons)) majoring in Classical Performance (Piano). She is a former member of Estrella, the eight-hands ensemble that won the Pettman/ROSL Arts Chamber Music Scholarship 2011 and the Auckland Society Chamber Music Prize 2011.

Tama Waipara

Tama Waipara graduated from the University of Auckland in 1998 with a Bachelor of Music (Honours) and has since built a multifaceted career as a professional musician, performing with the NZSO and other orchestras; classical singer; contemporary singer-songwriter and recording artist; actor; music lecturer; composer of music for theatre, film and advertising; sonic artist; and global traveller.

Ben White

Ben White graduated from the University of Auckland in 2005 with a Bachelor of Music (Honours), majoring in Jazz Performance. Since then he has built a successful career as a professional freelance musician and composer. He is an accomplished guitarist in a variety of styles, performing and recording with Latin/funk/hip-hop/soul band Sola Rosa and pop/rock artist Dane Rumble, whose distinctively New Zealand sound is appreciated in several overseas markets.

Melody Lin playing the flute.

Melody Lin

My area of research is on contemporary Asian and New Zealand flute compositions, especially on the musical parallels between the Western flute and the traditional Chinese and Japanese flutes and their performance techniques. The School of Music library has a comprehensive list of materials that has been significantly beneficial to my research. The funding from the Postgraduate Research Student Support (PReSS) has also enabled me to attend overseas conferences, such as the 2008 World Shakuhachi Festival.

“Through my doctoral study I have been able to refine and broaden my performance skills and develop myself further as a solo, chamber and orchestral musician. The public recitals held at the School of Music have given me the opportunities to perform my chosen repertoires, and to build up my connection with a wider community.”

Melody graduated recently with a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA), and is now teaching at the School of Music.

Lisa Chung playing the cello.

Lisa Chung

“I've been playing the cello since I was a little child and it has become a part of my life, which is probably why it was natural for me to choose to study music. The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) at the University of Auckland is a professional degree for performers who have the talent as well as the ambition to develop their careers through further research and highly advanced studies in performance. It allows you to expand the depth of your knowledge and develop professional skills.

I've been participating in various music festivals, masterclasses and seminars around the world since I've started my DMA. Through these experiences, I would love to be involved in teaching advanced students in the future.”

Lisa is currently studying for a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA).

Tsubasa Kawamoto in the music recording studio.

Tsubasa Kawamoto

"I chose to study music at the University of Auckland because of its reputation for outstanding teaching staff who are committed to their students, and are current leaders in the world field. I have found that the School of Music has allowed me to explore many facets of music, including instrumental and electroacoustic composition. The boutique environment and great facilities have enabled me to actively pursue both the theoretical and practical sides of musical composition, as well as offering numerous performance opportunities – and helping me build a network of invaluable ties with professionals. Following obtaining my BMus (Hons) in 2010, I plan to continue my studies at the School of Music at masters level."

Tsubasa recently completed a Master of Music (MMus) with first class honours.

Jane Koo

Jane Koo

"I started playing the piano from the age of five, and have participated in many competitions until now.  There were times I had some success, but certainly there were hard times. One day I realised that I play the piano simply because I enjoy sharing my music with the audience. Not to win a competition. Music expresses that which cannot be put into words. Music speaks for itself.

"The University of Auckland has opened new doors for me. My progress over the last three years has been significant in terms of musicality and technique. I believe that the University of Auckland has a huge international standing, and I feel I've been given the opportunity to learn from some of the very best."

Jane is currently studying for a Master of Music (MMus) in Classical Performance. She was the winner of the 2012 Graduation Gala Concerto Competition held at the Auckland Town Hall.