Rotorua is a hub of music and culture for hundreds of students this week, as they come together with their musical talent and passion for Rhapsody Rotorua.

Now in its 19th year, Rhapsody Rotorua features more than 800 students from more than 20 Australian and New Zealand schools who have a common goal in mind - to make music, be adjudicated, and perform free public concerts.

The week-long festival, which ends tomorrow, is also offering overseas students the chance to experience Māori culture and Rotorua's attractions while having fun and learning together.

This premier youth music festival is put on by educational travel company WorldStrides, with orchestral and band performances by New Zealand and Australian top school music groups.


WorldStrides was founded in 1967 by a school teacher and has taken more than 9 million students around the world on educational travel experiences for more than 50 years.

Throughout the week students have been undertaking masterclasses and workshops and having their performances adjudicated by world-renowned musicians.

The young musicians have also performed at local schools while in the Rotorua district, and are performing in a free gala concert today at the Harvest Centre.

Lachlan Walker, 14, and Alice Annetts, 16, have travelled over from Como Secondary High School in South Perth, Australia, to take part in Rhapsody Rotorua.

Lachlan has played the trumpet for four years and Alice has played the clarinet for six years.

They say they have enjoyed everything about the Rhapsody Rotorua experience so far.

Lachlan says he enjoys music and playing the trumpet because it feels good when he plays.

Alice says she is looking forward to watching all the bands perform.


"I like how it [music] connects people and brings people together."

Como Secondary High School music teacher Kiara Wild says there are 55 students from the school attending.

She says they have performed at a few local schools, including Bethlehem College Chapman and Rotorua Primary School.

She says the festival is a great experience for the students, especially professionally interacting with professional musicians and learning from them.

"The development that happens for kids on tours like these is impressive."

Some of the local attractions they were getting the chance to check out while in Rotorua includes OGO, Tamaki Māori Village, and Hobbiton, she says.

One of the school's parent helpers, Kirsty Oehlers says the city of Rotorua has been, "so hospitable - everyone has been friendly and warm".

Destination Rotorua international trade manager Patrick Dault says it is a great event, showing off the "sublime educational potential" of the city.

"Young performers from Australia and New Zealand get to enjoy Rotorua's rich cultural heritage and our unique geothermal environment. They gain valuable experience, performing to packed public venues."

WorldStrides performing arts programmes leader Karene Philips says performing on stage in front of the Rotorua community reaps tremendous benefits for the students.

"Uniting students from different countries and cultures to share their passion for music creates a truly remarkable event.

"It's an immensely rewarding experience for everyone involved in the festival."

Today's free concert
- Friday July 5, 7pm: Gala Performances from Honours, Festival Bands, Orchestras and Choirs, plus Rodger Fox Quartet with jazz singer Erna Ferry. Harvest Centre.
Tickets - free, available from or Rotorua Energy Events Centre.