Let’s get quizzical! Hear more from Festival Artists

In the run-up to the Whakatipu Music Festival, we’ve rounded up the best answers from our Artist Interviews. Hear from our Professional Artists and Young Artists as they talk about stage fright, classical music today, and 2020’s silver linings…



Pictured: Young Artist William King, baritone

Cecile McNeill, viola

Anna Leese, soprano

Jonathan Cohen, clarinet

Will King, baritone

Noelle Dannenbring, piano

KiHei Lee, violin

Stephen De Pledge, piano

Somi Kim (NZTrio), piano


What excites you most about Queenstown?

  • Scenery
  • Snow 
  • Real winter weather 
  • Nothing like it 
  • Home to the famous Fergburger 
  • Extra Queenstown freshness
  • Changing of the seasons


Invite a composer to dinner:

  • Leonard Bernstein
  • David Bowie
  • Mozart 
  • Beethoven
  • Gershwin 
  • Bach


How do you cope with stage fright?

  • If I haven’t prepared to the best of my ability, I pretend that I have
  • I try to imagine myself in a scene with props and a costume and other people onstage
  • I just try to remember that stage fright is really just another form of excitement
  • Be as prepared as possible
  • Stock up on bananas 
  • I have to just walk on stage and see what happens
  • It’s good to think of it as ‘useful adrenaline rush’ instead of stage fright
  • I like to have a relaxing day before the concert


Majority rules – Best Scenery:



What do you want people to know about classical music today?

  • Classical music isn’t just music that sounds pretty all the time
  • Young people still love it even though they have so many options nowadays 
  • That they can seek out Brahms when they want to feel a certain way or Debussy to feel another way
  • That it’s not always the stereotype of the stuffy concert hall of sopranos in viking helmets
  • Hearing the stories might be one way for someone to get closer to classical music
  • That there is literally something for everyone, and anyone can find something special to them
  • Classical music isn’t old, clean-cut or snobby – it’s some of the best work humans have done in four centuries. It tells real stories about real people


What silver linings did 2020 bring to your life?

  • A much deeper appreciation of chamber music 
  • Our second son Sammy
  • Reconnecting with friends and family overseas 
  • I managed to finish my final year of uni through the computer
  • A slower pace of life, and working out what truly mattered
  • Took up running and ran the Auckland marathon


If you weren’t a musician, you would be:

  • An artist or a writer
  • A teacher
  • A baker
  • Ballet dancer, holistic health coach or interior designer
  • An athlete
  • A chef
  • In fashion, Artistic Director, Head of an Arts Management Agency 


Majority rules – Travel destination: