contest alumni

Lucas Baker is the violinist of Timeless Trio, winners of the 2018 NZCT Chamber Music Contest People’s Choice Award, we asked Lucas what he is up to now, nearly one year on. (March 2019)

Do you still play music?

YES! All of us in Timeless Trio are still playing – and we are still playing together! Music is a huge part of our lives, especially chamber music, and we all enjoy sharing our music with others.

It’s been nearly a year since you won the NZCT Chamber Music Contest “People’s Choice Award” with Ensemble ‘Timeless Trio.’ Can you tell us a bit about what you are up to now?

I have just started my first year at Te Koki New Zealand School of Music (at Victoria University of Wellington) studying for a Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance with Helene Pohl, the first violinist of the New Zealand String Quartet. I am also doing a bit of teaching – that is, I’m teaching acrobatics and dance at SWPT in Porirua, especially in the boys’ classes.

What about the other players, what are they doing now?

Ben and Milly are still at school, working hard on clarinet / piano, and enjoying playing music of all sorts. Ben is still mountain biking, and skiing when he can. He now goes places on a scooter! We catch Milly between her football and futsal training and games.

Looking back at the contest, what do you think it did for you personally? Did it give you new confidence? Did it inspire you in any way?

All my times doing the contest were inspiring. If you looked at my first chamber group and where I am today, it is a ginormous change. The contest gave me confidence and taught me how to voice my opinion about musical ideas. It has ‘grown’ me – not only in music but in other areas of my life too. Each year brought many laughs, different challenges, and furthered my musical development.

What sort of music do you like listening to now?

I listen to everything I am studying. The list is long! Currently, I am really enjoying listening to live performances of the NZSO and NZSQ, the Beethoven String Quartets, Gershwin 3 Preludes, Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence, and Symphonies from the romantic period like Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 – that’s for Wellington Youth Orchestra, of which I am the Concertmaster. I am very grateful for all the different platforms such as Naxos, Spotify, and YouTube – we have access to an endless supply of music through the touch of a button.

Did you have music in your school when growing up? What is your take on wider music education in schools?

I was home educated and have six siblings. I guess you could say my ‘school’ was integrated with music… even the A, B, C’s had songs! From what I have seen through the contest, music education in schools seems to be a low priority. It is usually left to private music teachers. Chamber music is only promoted in a few schools, which is sad, because you can learn so much by playing music with others.

When did you first start learning your instrument? Who were the people, teachers that inspired you, that you think had the most influence on your development?

I first started learning violin with Lynley Culliford when I was three years old. Although I do not remember this, it was supposed to be an older brother’s first violin lesson, but when he got up to have his turn, I jumped up and stood in front of him! That was how my musical journey began. The New Zealand String Quartet and their colleagues (Helene Pohl, Monique Lapins, Gillian Ansell, Rolf Gjelsten, Doug Beilman, Jian Liu) have helped my development as a musician – through their Queen’s Birthday Weekend Chamber Music Workshops, Adam Summer School, and now, through university.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

That seems like such a long time away! Ben, Milly and I would all like to explore more chamber music. It would be good if there were more music for different combinations of instruments. I would like to be in many different places, and still playing music with friends and colleagues. Hopefully, I can help bring harmony to the world, and help people express their emotions via music.

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