Congratulations to Justin Bird, a doctoral student of André Watts, who has won the Jacobs School of Music Saint-Saëns piano concerto competition. He will perform the concerto with the University Orchestra on Sunday, April 7 at 8pm, under the baton of Arthur Fagen. The free concert takes place in the Musical Arts Center.
Hanol Baek, a student of Emile Naoumoff, was the runner-up.
Justin Bird began playing the piano at a very early age in New Zealand and came to the United States to further his education in 2004. In addition to performing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Auckland, Wellington and National Youth Orchestras, Bird’s career has featured several concerto appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
In 1999 he represented New Zealand as a finalist in the Kowhai Australasian Piano Concerto Competition. In 2000 he was awarded the NZ Young Performer of the Year for piano, and in 2002 appeared as a finalist in the prestigious NZ Young Musician of the year Competition. In the same year he won the inaugural NZ Kapiti Coast International Piano Competition. This awarded him his USA debut recital at the Temple Square Series in Salt Lake City. In 2006 he reached the finals of the MTNA National Young Artist Competition in the USA and later that year he performed with the Florida State University Philharmonia.
Bird grew up studying piano with Rae de Lisle, and in later years with Bryan Sayer, Read Gainsford, and Marian Hahn. He has also been privileged to play for Leon Fleisher, Roy Howat, Michael Houston, and John Perry in masterclass. Bird has earned a Bachelor of Music at the University of Auckland, a Masters of Music at Florida State University, and a Graduate Performance Diploma at the Peabody Institute. He is currently working towards a doctorate, studying with André Watts at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Bird is both a prolific accompanist and chamber musician, having twice been part of the winning group in the NZ National Chamber Music Contest. He has worked with many contemporary music ensembles performing on piano, celeste, harmonium, keyboard and harpsichord. His present studies incorporate an interest in early keyboard instruments, with guidance from Professor Elisabeth Wright in the Jacobs School’s Early Music Institute.