Macleans College Year 11 student Lorna Zhang performed with two other students in their group Trio Achilles at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington at the finals weekend of the NZCT Chamber Contest.
The competition was live-streamed on Radio New Zealand and professionally recorded. The annual contest has a rich tradition discovering future musicians of New Zealand since 1965.
Twelve groups were chosen to perform in the semi-finals, out of which six were selected to perform in the final stage of the competition.
After many months of rehearsing and practising together, Trio Achilles made up of Lorna Zhang (Macleans College) violin, Damon Herlihy-O’Brien (Glendowie College) cello, and Shuan Liu (Pinehurst School) piano, was chosen to compete in the national finals.
Ultimately, Trio Achilles claimed the runner up, Helen Young Diamond Award, for their performance of Piano Trio No.1 in C minor, Op. 8 by Dmitri Shostakovich.
This inaugural award consists of a cash prize of $2500 for the recipient group.
“I have only been able to attain this achievement because of the support and teachings that my numerous mentors have given me, such as my current violin teacher Stephen Larsen, as well as James Bush, Rae de Lisle and Richard Liu, who are all teachers from the Chiron Group NZ,” says Lorna.
“To prepare for the competition, we also received feedback from James Tennant, Sarah Watkins, and Bridget Douglas.”
Lorna is a scholar of the Chiron Charitable Trust, which has enabled her as well as cellist Damon Herlihy-O’Brien and pianist Shuan Liu, (both Chiron scholarship holders) to form Trio Achilles.
“We regularly play together at the Remuera Music Academy and at the Albany School of Music, where our teachers give lessons,” says the Macleans College musician.
Having started playing the violin at the age of two, Lorna devotes one to three hours a day every day to the string instrument.
Other than that, she has been playing the trombone since the last year and a half at school.
“I started learning because I really enjoy listening to jazz. I play the trombone in the Macleans’ concert band. I have been inspired by many musicians over the course of my journey as a musician. Violinists that I particularly enjoy listening to are Isabelle Faust, David Oistrakh, James Ehnes, Janine Jansen,” she shares.
Talking about the trio members, Damon and Shuan, she says they inspire her to enjoy time performing as a musician. “We had a lot of fun playing together at the Michael Fowler Centre,” says Lorna.