A multicultural quintet of secondary school students from the Porirua-based Virtuoso Strings Orchestra have taken out the Wellington title in this year’s NZT Chamber Music Contest and are headed for the Lower North Island contest on June 24.

They successfully competed against 37 other groups from the Wellington region and they will be one of twelve groups vying for the Lower North Island title next Saturday 24 June. Alongside Wellington, there will be groups from the East Coast, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatū, Whanganui and Taranaki.

The five players, Rochelle Pese (violin), Zung Bawm La Htaw (violin), Jillian Tupuse (viola), Teddy Sneyd-Utting (viola) and Veititi Alapati (cello) are Sāmoan, Myanmar and Pākeha.  They are part of a uniquely multicultural youth orchestra in Porirua which brings together young people from a wide range of ethnicities and offers free tuition.

The five have been playing together since they were beginners, taught by Virtuoso Strings’ Director of Music Liz Sneyd. They have also been tutored by a range of professional musicians from the NZ String Quartet, the NZ Trio, the NZSO and the NZ School of Music.

Their winning composition was created for them by the orchestra’s Director of Music, Craig Utting, who matched the music to their individual abilities. They memorised the entire thirteen minutes for the performance.

Jillian, Rochelle and Veititi are also part of Grace Notes, a barbershop quartet, which recently won first place in the Wellington Regional Barbershop competition. They will go on to the National Barbershop Finals in Auckland in September.

“The Virtuoso Strings Trust is delighted with the quintet’s success”, says Trust chairperson Dr Hongzhi Gao. “We’re very proud of them and hope they’ll go right through to the National Finals”.

“It’s very special for these young musicians from our multicultural orchestra to do so well in such a competitive environment. It makes the work we do with young people in Porirua all the more rewarding and will encourage others to follow.”