2021 Official Collaborative Pianists

Dr Sarah Watkins

Sarah’s lifelong love for accompanying and chamber music has led to an impressive career as a performer and recording artist. She is perhaps best known to New Zealand audiences as a founding member of NZTrio, one of this country’s most dynamic and indispensable music ensembles. After 16 years, Sarah left the group in June 2018 to actively pursue other musical collaborations and passions, which includes the mentoring and coaching of young New Zealand musicians.  
In addition to NZTrio, she has been an official pianist for the Michael Hill International Violin Competition since its inception in 2001 and the Gisborne International Music Competition since 2008, and has performed as a freelance player in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Auckland Chamber Orchestra.

Sarah has also appeared as concerto soloist with St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra, ACO, and the APO, and in 2014 recorded Chris Watson's "sing songs self" for solo piano and orchestra with the NZSO, a composition which was awarded the prestigious 2015 SOUNZ Contemporary Award.

Her numerous CD recordings with NZTrio and other artists have been widely praised by audiences and critics alike; ‘Sway’ (NZTrio, 2017) and ‘Gung-ho’ (2009, with NZSO prinicipal trombonist David Bremner) were both winners of the Vodafone NZ Music Award for best Classical album.
Sarah is a graduate of the University of Canterbury (NZ) and the Juilliard School in New York City, where she earned both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in collaborative piano. While living in the US, Sarah worked as a staff pianist at Juilliard, Yale University, and the Aspen Music Festival.  She also served as coordinator of the collaborative piano program at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, and spent several years on the music faculty of Purchase College, New York. During the period 2004-2009 NZTrio was ensemble in residence at the University of Auckland, where Sarah taught collaborative piano and chamber music.

Somi Kim

South Korean born New Zealand pianist, Somi Kim has established herself as one of today's most versatile young pianists with a string of competition successes and extensive concert experience.

Somi is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London. She graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Performance and Master of Arts with Distinction, a DipRAM, and the HRH Princess Alice the Duchess of Gloucester’s Prize. Somi is a winner of the Royal Over-Seas League Accompanist Prize and the Gerald Moore Award for Accompanists.

Sought after as a chamber musician, song accompanist and répétiteur, Somi is the official pianist for NZTrio (‘New Zealand’s most indispensable ensemble’ – NZ Herald). She is a staff pianist and coach at the International Holland Music Sessions, International Vocal Competition ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Gisborne International Music Competition and the New Zealand Opera School.

In recital, Somi’s recent and future appearances include Het Concertgebouw, Slovak Philharmonic and Wigmore Hall. Somi made her debut this year with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performing the Gershwin Piano Concerto.

Somi has been an official collaborative pianist for the Gisborne International Music Competition since 2017.


Liam Wooding (Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi)

Described as “one of the most consummate musicians I have seen on stage” (Radio NZ), Liam Wooding is one of New Zealand’s leading emerging pianists. He was a prize winner in the 2015 National Concerto Competition, performing with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and has since performed as a soloist with the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, Wellington Chamber Orchestra, and on several occasions with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

A graduate of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), Liam studied with Timothy Young, supported by a Creative New Zealand scholarship. On leaving ANAM, he received the Volunteers Prize for an Outstanding ANAM Citizen.

Recent and upcoming appearances include the Auckland Arts Festival, Wakatipu Music Festival, Chamber Music New Zealand, Melbourne Recital Centre, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, and Flinders University. Last year, Liam was an artist in residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada.

His first commercial recording, Play Pen, was released on the Atoll label in 2019 and spent several weeks at the top of the Radio New Zealand classical music charts. Upcoming recordings include the complete Cabaret Songs by William Bolcom, and a solo recital project Reflections and Connections.

Liam is based at the University of Waikato where he is a doctoral candidate researching New Zealand piano music. In addition to his work as a performer and researcher, he is a committed advocate for community music-making and is a board member of Orchestras Central.