Music Arts blog

JazzQuest Judges - 2016

17 Jun 2016
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The 2016 judges of JazzQuest are Richard Pickard and Matt Steele. The competition is almost full with a number of schools increasing their amount of jazz bands participating. It's an indication that Christchurch secondary school jazz music is in great shape and being advanced by strong leadership from HoD's, teachers and band leaders. 

JazzQuest is extremely pleased to continue the tradition of getting the country's top jazz players and educators to judge the competition. Recent judges include Nick Granville, Dixon Nacey, Daniel Hayes and Lauren Ellis.

Matt Steele

Matt Steele is a young Wellington based jazz pianist and keyboard player. A dynamic performer and teacher, in his music Matt demonstrates a "'wider awareness, an openness, and a hunger for what is just out of reach" (John Fenton, Jazz Journalists Association, 2014). He is the 2012 winner of the Lewis Eady Charitable Trust Emerging Artists Series and has played with many musicians and bands throughout New Zealand and Australia including - Lisa Tomlins, Lex French, Roger Manins, Chelsea Prastiti, Julien Dyne, Myele Manzanza, The Aviators, Auckland Jazz Orchestra and Pyramids. Major festival performances include R&V, Parihaka and the Tauranga National Jazz Festival. (Photo credit John Fenton)

Richie Pichard

With over twenty years of professional experience, Richie has played extensively throughout New Zealand and globally in a range of formats. 

A vastly experienced performer, he has worked in a wide variety of musical contexts from pop, folk, soul and rock music through to jazz, musical theatre, cabaret and orchestral contexts.

As both an electric and double bass player he has performed with international artists including Josh Groban, Elaine Paige and Mary Coughlan and with some of New Zealand's top musicians, bands, and songwriters including Breaks Co-op, Julia Deans, Dave Dobbyn, Anika Moa and Annie Crummer.

Alongside his professional music career, he has also established himself as a progressive and dynamic music educator, teaching at some of New Zealand's leading schools and institutions including the University of Canterbury, CPIT (now Ara) and the University of Auckland. 

He's currently a senior tutor on the Auckland Philharmonia's 'Sistema Aotearoa' programme, based in South Auckland.

The Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival

23 May 2016
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Here at Ara Music Arts we are extremely proud to be involved with the NZ International Blues & Jazz Festival 2016 (25-29 May). Not only are we hosting our special Anniversary Gala Concert and a 4-night 6pm series of concerts, but plenty of our tutors and graduates are performing in various acts & bands.

Here's a run-down . . . .

Ara Music Arts 6pm Series (multiple nights) featuring tutors Darren Pickering (piano), Reuben Derrick (sax), Michael Story (bass), ex-tutor Ted Meager (drums). And graduates Alice Tanner (vocals), Chris Wethey (bass), Heather Webb (guitar), Cameron Burnett (drums), Tyson Smith (guitar), Tim Sellars (drums), Glen Wagstaff (guitar), Tamara Smith (flute).

Stevie Wonder Tribute featuring tutors Kate Taylor (vocals), Gwyn Reynolds (sax). Cameron Pearce (trumpet), Darren Pickering (keys), Michael Story (bass), Andy Genge (guitar), Luke Smillie (drums). And graduate Chris Burke (sax)

Tami Neilson featuring tutor Joe McCallum (drums) - Friday 27 May, 7.30pm, Transitional Cathedral, $49.

La Petite Manouche featuring graduates Robbie Averill (guitar), Burke Goff (guitar) - Wednesday 25 May, 7pm, George Hotel, $160 (with meal).

Yellow Moon featuring tutor Harry Harrison (guitar) & graduate Justine Snelgrove (sax,flute) - Thursday 26 May, 7pm, George Hotel, $160 (with meal).

Radius featuring tutor Harry Harrison (guitar,banjo) & graduate Justine Snelgrove (sax,flute) - Friday 27 May, 7pm, George Hotel, $160 (with meal).

Hetty Kate & James Sherlock featuring tutor Michael Story (bass) - Friday 27 May, 7.30pm, The Gym, $40.

Gerard Masters featuring graduates Brett Hirst (bass), Dan Kennedy (drums), Gerard Masters (piano) - Thursday 26 May, 1pm, The Gym, $12.

Jennine Bailey graduate (vocals) - Friday 27 May, 1pm, The Gym, $12.

Late Night Jazz Slam (multiple nights) featuring tutors Darren Pickering (piano), Michael Story (bass), Luke Smillie (drums). And graduates Emma Hattaway (bass), Heather Webb (guitar), Mitch Thomas (drums), Oakley Grenell (guitar), Johnny Lawrence (bass), Tamara Smith (flute), Tyson Smith (guitar), Chris Burke (sax), Robbie Averill (guitar), Burke Goff (guitar), Tim Driver (keys), Manny Addis (guitar), Nick Bosman (bass).

JazzQuest - 2016

10 May 2016
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This is the 11th year of JazzQuest, the Ara Music Arts competition aimed at showcasing all the talented students and vibrant jazz programmes within the secondary and intermediate schools. 2016 introduces a new category into the mix.

The Ensemble category (8-12 people) will cater to those schools with smaller music departments who are unable to fill all the positions in a big band and have up until now been competing with full big bands. This aligns the competition more closely with other regional competitions like Blenheim's Southern Jam.

The competition keeps going from strength to strength. In 2015, the competition spilled over to starting on the Friday afternoon to cater to increased demand. There were also added prizes via sponsors Orange Studios and Musicworks, and hype surrounding the competition was intensified via social media. The judges' flights have booked and the lollies purchased for the goodie bags. See you in August!

Ara celebrates - 25 years

19 Apr 2016
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In 2011 Ara Music Arts was due to celebrate its 20th birthday. As for many 20 year olds a party was in order with live music and lots of catch-ups with old friends and family.

February 22nd rolled around (excuse the pun) and Mother Nature had other plans for us. Over the next few years the school worked through building changes and continuous rumbles only to grow in strength and determination of bringing live music back to the central city.

2016 brings the 25th anniversary of Ara Music Arts and the celebrations have already begun.

In conjunction with The Cavell Leitch International Jazz and Blues festival Ara Music arts will kick off the festival with a gala concert held at the beautifully restored Theatre Royal on May 25th at 730pm.

Celebrating 25 years of Jazz education in Christchurch this concert brings together a stunning array of graduates, staff and current students in what promises to be a night of celebration not to be missed.

Founded in 1991,and formally known as the Jazz school, Ara Music Arts has played a major part in the musical life of the city, through its training of many musicians, and performances at its facilities in High Street.

With alumni scattered around the globe, coming together for this special performance will be well known graduates now firmly established in Australia – Gerard Masters, Brett Hirst, Dan Kennedy, Susan De Jong and Oakley Grenell. Founding tutors Doug Caldwell, Bob Heinz, Ted Meager and Tom Rainey will perform, along with current students.

Other contributors include Gwyn Reynolds, Scott Taitoko, Andy Genge, Johnny Lawrence, Cam Pearce, Darren Pickering, Harry Harrison, Michael Story, and singers Kate Taylor, Anna Whitaker, Jennine Bailey and Juliet Reynolds Midgley.

Special performances by Oval Office, Departure Lounge, LA Mitchell and the Nativa Band, and Muklisa featuring Tim Sellars, Glenn Wagstaff, Tamara Smith and Tyson smith will round out to what promises to be a unique and special evening.

Events will be held throughout the year with performances in conjunction with The Big Band festival in October.

Jazz school has been a second home to many of the performers around Christchurch. It will be honour to celebrate this fine establishment and the education, top quality performers, arrangers and singer/songwriters it continues to deliver.