Ākarana Piano Quartet – Saturday 2nd of September


Saturday, 2nd September, 2.30pm.
Old Library Building Arts Centre
7 Rust Avenue, Whangarei


Debuting for the first time in 2023, the Akarana Piano Quartet has been formed by award-winning musicians Andrew Beer, violin, and Sarah Watkins, piano (Best Classical Artist 2020, NZ Music Awards), joined by two outstanding colleagues from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra—principal violist Robert Ashworth and sub-principal cellist Chen Cao. 

The quartet are described as providing a ‘rich, vibrant storytelling, connecting the key figures of European music with Aotearoa New Zealand’ (CMNZ).


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor

Frank Bridge

Phantasy for Piano Quartet in F sharp minor


Janet Jennings

Twelve Colours: Homage to Paul Klee

Antonín Dvořák

Piano Quartet No.2 in E flat major, Op.87


Andrew Beer, violinist, has been described as a “musical gift” (NY Times) with a “glorious string tone” (Strad magazine). Canadian born Beer, was appointed the concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2014 and continues to perform extensively throughout the world as soloist, chamber musician, and guest concertmaster.  He and Sarah Watkins first joined forces for a successful CMNZ tour in 2015, and were named Best Classical Artists at the 2020 NZ Music Awards for their CD of New Zealand violin-piano duos, “11 Frames”.

Robert Ashworth,  viola , also born in Canada, has been guest-principal viola for most of the major Australasian orchestras, as well as assistant-principal for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Appointed to the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra as principal viola in 2007,  he has appeared as soloist with the APO, the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, and St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra. An enthusiastic chamber musician, he plays in the Jade String Quartet, and has recorded for the Atoll and Rattle Labels, as well as many performances recorded for RNZ Concert.

Chen Cao is a gifted young cellist who has performed widely throughout his native China, Europe, and the US, where he graduated from both the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School. Chen was the first prize winner of the cello category IX in the 2020 North International Competition, and in 2021  won the ‘most exceptional performer’ prize of the Charleston International Contemporary Competition. Chen joined the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2020 , and has toured for CMNZ in the 2021 season.

Pianist Sarah Watkins is passionate about chamber music and has had an impressive and busy career as a collaborative pianist. Sarah has performed across Australia, Asia, the USA, and Europe as a founding member of the NZTrio, and now enjoys a wide variety of collaborations with musicians throughout Aotearoa. A three-time winner of Classical Artist of the Year at the Aotearoa Music Awards (most recently with Robert Ashworth in 2022, and Andrew Beer in 2020), she is also an official pianist for the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. Sarah earned both MM and DMA degrees from the Juilliard School (NY) and is currently on the teaching staff at the University of Auckland.

Musicians – For further detailed information please click on the below website links. 

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