The Martinborough Music Festival

Our Story

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We have wrapped the second annual Martinborough Music Festival. The festival was a great success, building on the start we made in 2017.

Our aim is to bring some of New Zealand's very best chamber musicians to the village of Martinborough at the end of September each year for a series of concerts over three days and to make the Martinborough Music Festival the best little chamber music festival in New Zealand … !

Read about our journey so far here …

We look forward to seeing you in September 2019.


Our Story

The Journey Here

The idea of an annual classical music festival in Martinborough came from Ian Cresswell, the founder of Jazz In Martinborough back in 2010. Ian wanted a classical music sister festival, but two things were missing back then—the right kind of venue that might accommodate an orchestra, and the right kind of piano that might attract soloists of the calibre of Michael Houstoun and Diedre Irons.

The prospect of the right kind of venue came with the decision to upgrade the Martinborough Town Hall. And then came the tipping point … the piano … !

Cherry Van Kranen was a music teacher who passed away in 2016, a few weeks after her 90th birthday. For the last 15 years of her life, Cherry lived in a villa at the Wharekaka Rest Home in Martinborough. Her pride and joy was her Schimmel grand piano, purchased in the 1980s. The Schimmel dwarfed her Wharekaka villa living room and she played it well into her late 80s.

It was Cherry’s wish that after her death the piano would be used by the Martinborough community.

The centrepiece of the Martinborough Music Festival is the Schimmel. The Festival is currently based at St Andrew’s Church Hall but in the future, the Festival may be based at the newly refurbished Martinborough Town Hall, which will also be the home of Cherry’s piano.

The inaugural Martinborough Music Festival in 2017 was an artistic, critical and audience success. The Festival headliner was the celebrated concert pianist, Michael Houstoun, who gave a solo recital on the Friday night and on the Saturday played with the Zephyr Wind Quintet and the Martinborough Festival Quartet, both featuring leading NZSO players. On the Sunday, the string and wind players combined to deliver the great Schubert Octet. According to the Wairarapa Time-Age, the concerts featured "top-shelf playing from some of New Zealand's finest" and the Festival had "a lovely vibe".

The 2018 Festival was an even bigger success! Exceptional musicians—Diedre Irons (Piano), Wilma Smith (Violin), Amalia Hall (Violin), Christopher Moore (Viola), Matthias Balzat (Cello) and Clarinet virtuoso, Mark Walton—magic music and full houses. The programme was, in the words of Mark Walton, “heavenly”.

This 2018 Festival was organised by local music enthusiasts Edward Allen (Chair), Brendan Smyth, Katherine Lawrence, Marion Townend, Martin Lawrence and Winifred Bull with artistic direction from Vicki Jones.

We thank the family of wonderful top quality artists who played at the 2018 Festival and we dedicate the festival to Ian Cresswell, who had the vision, and to Cherry Van Kranen who gifted her Schimmel grand piano to the Martinborough community.



The inaugural Martinborough Music Festival was undoubtedly a success … well chosen programmes and top shelf playing from some of New Zealand's finest … a lovely vibe.


howard warner in the wairarapa midweek, 11 October 2017