Michael Houstoun was born in Timaru, New Zealand in October 1952. He began piano lessons at the age of five and under the guidance of Sr Mary Eulalie and subsequently Maurice Till he moved through the grades of the Trinity College of London examination system (ATCL 96%, LTCL 97%). At the same time he won all the major piano competitions in NZ and began playing with orchestras.
In 1973 at the age of twenty he entered and placed third in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. This led to a year of study with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
In 1975 he placed fourth in the Leeds International Piano Competition and then in 1982 sixth in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.
After living overseas for six years - including a valuable period of study with Brigitte Wild in London - he returned home in 1981 where he has enjoyed his life as something of an 'Artist in ResideNZ', performing recitals, concertos and chamber music all over the country year in year out.
Most years he performs one or two new programs and consequently has built a very large repertoire spanning from J S Bach to the present day. Included are many compositions by NZ composers and quite a few commissions.
Houstoun has twice presented the complete Beethoven sonatas in seven-concert cycles. More recently he has performed the 48 Preludes and Fugues of Bach's 'Well-tempered Klavier' in two-concert events.
Since 1999 he has recorded for Rattle Records (rattle.co.nz) with five of his albums winning Classical Record of the Year awards.
He has honorary degrees from Massey and Victoria universities, is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and a Laureate of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.
He is Advocate of Chamber Music New Zealand, and Patron of The NZ Institute of Registered Music Teachers, the NZ Music Examinations Board, the Kerikeri International Piano Competition and the Nelson School of Music.
Christian Howes Violinist, educator and composer, was voted #1 in the Downbeat Critics Poll (“Rising Stars/Violin”), named among the top three jazz violinists in the JazzTimes critics poll, and nominated for Violinist of the Year by the Jazz Journalist Association. He received the Residency Partner Award through Chamber Music America, earned a USArtists grant through the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and was invited by the U.S. State department to teach and perform as a cultural ambassador twice, in Ukraine and Montenegro. His release on Resonance Records, “Southern Exposure” earned recognition in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Downbeat, Jazz Times, as well as a six-night run at Lincoln Center. His release, “American Spirit” was named among the Best Jazz Albums of 2015″ by the Huffington Post. Howes is the founder of “Creative Strings“, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to expand music education through the creation of online curriculum, an annual summer conference, and dozens of visits to schools annually teaching improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects. He endorses Yamaha violins and D’Addario strings.
Erna Ferry is a paramount jazz and blues singer, and comes with stellar experience in many styles of musical performance.
“Her powerful vocal style captured the audience” – Evening Post Wellington
“Great vocal styling and this woman also plays great blues harmonica” – Christchurch Star
July 2013 – Erna toured to the USA with The Rodger Fox Wellington Jazz Orchestra and recorded with the band at the famed Capitol Recording Studios in Los Angeles – This CD has been released under the title of “The Capitol Sessions”.
In 2015 Erna toured the Peggy Lee Story to much acclaim, while continuing to work with the Rodger Fox Big Band and the Wellington Jazz Orchestra.
2017 sees Erna continuing to work with the Rodger Fox Big Band and performs at the 60th Anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival.