Piano virtuoso Liam Wooding recently returned to his home town Whanganui to help nurture emerging local talent.
Wooding was mentoring Whanganui students rehearsing to compete in the annual New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest.
They will perform in the Whanganui district contest which takes place on June 10 at the Prince Edward Auditorium. It is the only nationwide chamber music competition for young musicians and composers.
"It has fond memories for me," said Wooding.
"I competed for the first time in Year 10 and won. It gave me my start and I haven't looked back.
"The great thing about competing in Whanganui is that everyone is encouraged to get up and have a go. There are always more competitors than there are from Palmerston North or New Plymouth."
He praised tutor Ingrid Culliford whose encouragement promotes a high level of participation, he said.
Wooding left Whanganui in 2017 after being selected to take part in the Australian National Academy of Music's professional performance programme in Melbourne and he has been living a transtasman life ever since.
Currently in Queenstown where he will perform with a group of young musicians at the inaugural Wakatipu Music Festival this weekend, Wooding said he was due to fly to Melbourne next week.
"The flight has been cancelled because of the lockdown in Melbourne so I'll be coming back to Whanganui for a while," he said.
"Covid has made things quite hard because I now have family on both sides of the Tasman as well as bookings to play in both countries."
Wooding is booked to perform a solo concert at the Whanganui War Memorial Centre on July 22.
Ingrid Culliford said this year's Whanganui district chamber music contest has attracted 24 ensembles involving around 80 musicians from seven different schools.
"That includes groups travelling from Marton and, this year, from St George's School, as the competition has opened up to students from Years 7 and 8," she said.
"The groups range from standard chamber music ensembles with violin or flute, cello, and piano, to groups with singers."
The groups include six hands on one piano, a brass ensemble, and a group that includes a concert harp, all playing a variety of styles of music.
The contest will be adjudicated by former NZSO principal horn player Gregory Hill, who is also an artist-teacher at the NZ School of Music.
The New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest is the longest-running youth music competition in New Zealand and celebrated its 50th jubilee in 2015.
Following the Whanganui district round, the top ensembles from Hawke's Bay, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Manawatū, and Wellington will compete in the central regional finals held in the capital on June 26.
NZ Community Trust Chamber Music Contest: Whanganui District Competition, Thursday, June 10 at 2.30pm and 6.30pm. Entry $5 per session, or $8 for all sessions, students free.