The Martinborough Music Festival

Our Story

MMF_Web Tiles-06.png



We welcome you to the third Martinborough Music Festival …

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 four exceptional quality concerts over three days.

We want 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. For the first two years, the Festival was based at St Andrew’s Church Hall in Dublin Street but from 2019, the Festival will be based at the newly refurbished Martinborough Town Hall.

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 Times-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! This time, we featured another group of exceptional musicians—Diedre Irons (Piano), Wilma Smith (Violin), Amalia Hall (Violin), Christopher Moore (Viola), Matthias Balzat (Cello) and Clarinet virtuoso, Mark Walton. We enjoyed magic music and full houses. The programme was, in the words of Mark Walton, “heavenly”.

Our 2018 artists take a bow. From the left: Diedre Irons, Matthias Balzat, Amalia Hall, Christopher Moore, Mark Walton, Wilma Smith. Photo by Pete Monk.

Our 2018 artists take a bow. From the left: Diedre Irons, Matthias Balzat, Amalia Hall, Christopher Moore, Mark Walton, Wilma Smith. Photo by Pete Monk.

This 2019 Festival is organised by local Martinborough music enthusiasts Edward Allen (Chair), Andrew Morrison, Brendan Smyth, Marion Townend, Murray Pashby, Sharon Cuzens and Winifred Bull with artistic direction from Vicki Jones and Wilma Smith.

We thank the family of wonderful top quality artists who will play at the 2019 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.