Our 2018 Artists

The ARTISTS who performed at the 2018 Martinborough music festival

MMF_Web Tiles-06.png
MMF18_WILMA SMITH_Colour.jpg

Wilma Smith



Former Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the NZSO, Wilma was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She studied at Auckland University then in Boston at the New England Conservatory with the legendary Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner before becoming first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music and multiple prizes at other International String Quartet Competitions. The quartet was her professional focus in Boston but she also worked regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was Concertmaster of the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and Handel and Haydn Society.  

Invited to return home to form the New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma was first violinist for five years until the NZSO appointed her Concertmaster in 1993, a position she held for nine years until taking up the same position with the MSO from 2003 to 2014. In addition to her chamber music series, Wilma & Friends, now in its seventh season, Wilma has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with many orchestras in Australasia, and teaches at Melbourne and Monash Universities, Scotch College and Korowa Anglican Girls School. In 2016, she was appointed Artistic Director of the Melbourne Chamber Music Competitions by Musica Viva.

Artist notes by Vicki Jones


Diedre Irons



Diedre Irons is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished performing musicians. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, she made her debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at the age of 12 playing the Schumann Piano Concerto. She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and was subsequently invited by her teacher, Rudolf Serkin, to join the faculty of that prestigious conservatory where she taught for the next seven years. During those years, she toured Canada and the United States as a soloist and as a chamber music player.

Since moving to New Zealand in 1977 she has performed regularly with the NZSO, the APO and the CSO, toured many times under the auspices of CMNZ, and recorded extensively for RNZ. She was awarded an MBE in 1989 and an ONZM in 2011 for services to music, and in 2007 received an honorary MusD degree from Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada.

She taught at the University of Canterbury from 1992-2003 and has recently left her position as head of classical performance at the NZSM to focus fully on her own career as a concert pianist.

Artist notes by Vicki Jones

Copy of Mark Walton.JPG.png

Mark Walton



New Zealand born Mark Walton is a highly respected and popular figure in the Australian and New Zealand musical scene and widely acknowledged as a virtuoso clarinet and saxophone performer, inspiring teacher and appealing composer. For many years, Mark held the position of Chair of Woodwind and then Chair of Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, but for the past 12 years has been sharing his time between New Zealand and Australia. Mark has performed in many parts of the world, recorded numerous solo albums, composed a large number of works many of which have been performed far and wide. 

Mark has written many books including How Did That Happen? a very engaging account of his own rather unorthodox musical journey. The proceeds from the sale of these books go to the earthquake devastated Christchurch School of Music. Mark was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 2005 for his contribution to Music Education in Australia.

From this year, Mark will be permanently based back in Sydney, teaching, performing and composing.

Artist notes by Vicki Jones


Amalia Hall



Appointed as Orchestra Wellington’s Concertmaster in 2016, Amalia Hall is widely recognised as one of the foremost young violinists to emerge from New Zealand. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Amalia has won all of the major awards in New Zealand, including the Gisborne International Music Competition at the age of 16, the National Concerto Competition and the National Young Performer of the Year.

Amalia won the top prize at the Jeunesses International Music Competition Dinu Lipatti, and has received 1st Prize and “Absolute Winner” prize at the Postacchini International Violin Competition, as well as many other prizes at important international violin competitions.

Since the age of 9 Amalia has had over fifty solo appearances with orchestras in New Zealand. Recently, Amalia has performed as a soloist with I Virtuosi Italiani conducted by Federico Mondelci and Alvise Casellati, recitals in Italy with Sergio De Simone, and concert tours to Mexico, Vietnam and South Africa.

In 2018 Amalia is performing Bartók's 2nd Violin Concerto, and Michael Norris’s new Violin Concerto with Orchestra Wellington.

Artist notes by Vicki Jones


Christopher Moore



Born in Newcastle, Christopher Moore studied violin with two prominent Sydney Suzuki teachers, before completing his B.Mus in Newcastle with violinist and pedagogue, Elizabeth Holowell.

After working with Adelaide and New Zealand symphony orchestras as a section violinist, Chris decided to take up a less highly strung string instrument and moved his musical focus and energy to the viola. He had always thought that the violin made his head look big! He accepted a position as section violist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for one and a half years before successfully auditioning for the position of Associate Principal Viola with the same orchestra. 

During his association with MSO, Chris performed regularly as a chamber musician with other colleagues from the MSO and counts among his many highlights, sharing the stage with KISS.

In 2006, Chris was appointed Principal Viola of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, travelling the globe as violist/rock star for the next nine years before coming back to his bigger orchestral family at the MSO as their Principal Viola. Not surprisingly, Christopher’s wife and two daughters are pleased that Papa has hung up his rock star garb and come home to roost like their pet chickens. Christopher plays on a 1937 Arthur E. Smith viola affectionately known as ‘Martha’.

Artist notes by Vicki Jones


Matthias Balzat



Matthias began learning the cello at the age of 3, and was trained through the Suzuki method under Sally-Anne Brown. He started learning from James Tennant at the age of 11, and commenced his B.Mus degree at the University of Waikato when he was 14, graduating with Honours in 2017.

He has had great success in many competitions, including the 2013 NZCT Chamber Music Contest, the National Concerto Competition in 2014 and 2017 (overall first prize), PACANZ (Performing Arts Competition Association of New Zealand), the Gisborne International Competition and the inaugural International Wallace Competition. 

He was also in the winning chamber group of the ROSL Scholarship, and his piano trio was subsequently invited to spend four weeks touring through the UK, performing in several concerts, and having masterclasses with Mark Messenger, Robert Cohen and the Gould Piano Trio. 

He has performed in many different countries such as the USA, Germany, Austria, Australia, Fiji and the UK, and has appeared as soloist with the Waikato University student orchestra, NZ Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra, Opus Orchestra, St Matthews Chamber Orchestra, CSO, and the NZSO. Matthias plans to begin a Masters degree in Germany later this year.

Artist notes by Vicki Jones



I can't wait to play with this dream team ...





 The repertoire is heavenly ...