I'm the only person I know who still buys CDs (trust me, in five years they'll be the new vinyl).

Most come from charity stores, where you can pick up a bargain for a couple of bucks. Recently I found a disc of concertos composed by Haydn and Hofmann and recorded in 1996 by members of the University of Auckland Orchestra.

The musicians were fresh-faced graduates but, looking through the credits, many have gone on to impressive careers. With one of them, Henry Wong Doe, soon to perform with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, I wondered where music had taken them.

Henry Wong Doe: In 1996, a French horn player but now a concert pianist and professor of piano at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. French horn wasn't Wong Doe's first instrument; the piano prodigy nevertheless played horn from intermediate, stopping only when he left for the US after completing his Bachelor of Music degree. He did his Master's at Indiana University Bloomington, before heading to New York and Juilliard for his PhD. He still uses New York as his base but has just become a tenured professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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"It means I have stability," he says. "I can do what I want with my performing career and still have food on the table. Also, I love teaching, it's a thrill to be able to shape these talented students and I learn from them, too; when you're a performer you need some kind of feedback."

He's looking forward to playing with the APO this month.

"To be coming back to New Zealand to share what I've learnt is a buzz. I'm proud of what I've done but I'm also pleased and proud of how standards have changed and risen in New Zealand."

Rachael Griffiths-Hughes: In 1996, a harpsichord soloist but now a music lecturer at the University of Waikato and organist and music director at St Peter's Cathedral, Hamilton. Griffiths-Hughes had already graduated from Auckland, been to the US and returned with a PhD when Uwe Grodd asked her to play Haydn's D Major harpsichord concerto.

"I had four weeks to learn it but I was just back from the States and was super-confidant. Uwe was great and since then we've collaborated a fair bit."

Griffiths-Hughes got a teaching role at St Kentigern College, even though she had no experience and no diploma. At the end of 1999, three jobs simultaneously became free in Hamilton: lecturer at the University of Waikato, organist and music director of the Anglican cathedral and leader of Hamilton Civic Choir.

She's been in Hamilton ever since, expanding the church's single choir to four and, having given away the Civic Choir position, making her way up to convener at the university.

"To be part of Hamilton's blossoming culture is really satisfying. Regardless of the economic climate or the agendas of people whose job it is to balance the books, this stuff flourishes — people want to do it and people want to learn and hear it."

Catherine Petoe: In 1996, principal viola but now deputy principal at Auckland's Baradene College. Petoe didn't set out to become a classroom music teacher but her degree has proved useful, setting a platform from which other opportunities stemmed.

After completing her BMus, she completed further study, this time in psychology and says what she learnt in both disciplines has helped in her leadership roles as a dean and, now, deputy principal, administration and digital literacy, of Baradene College.

She's managed to keep in touch with a few of her university music department pals, especially Jessica Hindin (first violinist on the CD and now music director of Sistema Aotearoa), bassist Matt Cave, who's with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and violinist and award-winning composer/producer/arranger Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper.

Petoe no longer performs professionally but is a regular in school productions and concerts.

"This is just as fun," she says.

Juliette Primrose: In 1996, first violin and now a violinist working in London, Los Angeles and New York. In Connecticut, taking part in a project for the Amherst Early Music Festival, Primrose has several things on the go including playing mediaeval metal with Rowan Robertson of leather 'n' spandex gods Dio. She's always varied her music.

At 13, she was in a 1930s-style jazz band and by 16, she'd started gigging in pubs with Irish groups. It paid for university but she found getting up for lectures tough. After graduating, Primrose joined Celtic touring show Gaelforce before heading to the Royal Northern College of Music. When she wasn't studying, she earnt money playing jazz and klezmer; from 2002, she was lead fiddle in Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance.

"It gave me discipline in terms of putting on a show. I learnt to live out of a suitcase, and not get much sleep or decent food, but still shine on stage."

These days, Primrose separates what pays and what she does for the love of it.

"I have a show I play on luxury cruise ships, and then in London I devote myself to the unprofitable music I love."

Lowdown:
What: Henry Wong Doe plays Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where & when: Auckland Town Hall, Thursday, August 9