Fri, Jun 16, 2023 3:12 PM
Growing up in Marlborough, Caitlin Morris began her musical career at age 15, learning from some of the region's finest musical talents. Now, together with her husband Andrew, the couple are bringing their shared love of music to Blenheim to perform with Marlborough Civic Orchestra.
Words: Amy Russ
Caitlin Morris, a renowned cellist, composer, teacher, and music producer hailing from Marlborough, has captured the hearts of audiences with her exceptional musical talent and innovative compositions.
Through her unique approach to cello performance and boundarypushing compositions, Caitlin has become an inspiration in the classical music world. She has performed with local Wellington orchestras and has been involved in professional orchestral recording sessions for New Zealand films – and most recently she composed music for the award-winning New Zealand film entitled ‘A Girl Called Elvis’.
Andrew Atkins is a talented composer and classical pianist in his own right having completed a Master of Musical Arts in Classical Performance piano, competed in the inaugural Wallace National Piano Competition, and become a finalist in the Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Competition in 2014. He has developed a love and passion for conducting that saw him perform with the Orchestra Wellington and conducted the Manawatu Sinfonia, Kapiti Concert Orchestra, and the New Zealand School of Music Orchestra. He is the current Musical Director of the Wairarapa Singers and has also presented four music programmes as conductor with Wellington Chamber Orchestra.
Meeting at the New Zealand School of Music, the couple soon fell in love and their shared talent and passion for the classical artform has seen them undertake many magical performances together.
Now living in the Wairarapa, Caitlin and Andrew have spent the last couple of years helping to grow music education in rural communities. The 2020 lockdown saw Caitlin launch her YouTube channel cello.unlocked which provides teaching videos and cello quartet covers from pop songs through to classical music.
Their shared passion for teaching then saw them establish the Wairarapa Youth Orchestra in 2021, giving children the opportunity to explore orchestral instruments that otherwise may not be available to them. “We know how difficult it can be to access orchestral instruments and wanted to make learning the instruments more accessible for everyone, so Andrew and I have made it a big focus of ours in the Wairarapa through our orchestra, says Caitlin, “Andrew is passionate about developing orchestral large ensemble playing and promoting classical music and learning and is the conductor of the Wairarapa Youth Orchestra.
We are also lucky enough to have a lot of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra players living in the region, so we all work together to offer a mix of private and group sessions.”
Caitlin loves arranging, recording, performing, and teaching all kinds of musical genres. Inspiring future generations Caitlin says her love of coaching helps to drive her classical music passion. “Performing as a soloist is a huge love of mine, but I also really love to teach. It is about giving people an opportunity and witness their enthusiasm and excitement to learn something new, grow and develop.”
Caitlin’s love for music was instilled from an early age. Growing up with musical parents she was exposed to a diverse range of genres which helped to shape her unique style. Her classical journey began with the cello at age 15, an instrument she was drawn to with its deep expressive nature and rich tonal qualities.
She began learning the cello at age 15 under the tuition of Anna Hyland in Blenheim, and then completed the Grade 8 ABRSM cello exam studying under Lissa Cowie in Nelson. “Anna and Lissa were wonderful teachers, as were Marlborough locals Barbara Song, Robin Randall, Tony and Coral Thiel, and the phenomenal Marios Sophocleous. They were all incredible influences who helped to shape my love and passion for music. Upon hearing of Marios’ passing, I dedicated my last concerto performance, the Elgar Cello Concerto, to him.”
Coming back to her roots, Caitlin and Andrew will be performing with the Marlborough Civic Orchestra in August of this year. Caitlin is the solo cellist and will present the Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, with Andrew performing as the piano soloist with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Conducted by Elgee Leung, Caitlin says the challenging concerto has been a great learning experience.
“There are some big plays and incredibly challenging sections, with tempo changes and lots of difficult passages. Opportunities to perform like this don’t come along every day. This is very special to us, and we are so grateful and incredibly excited to present it to an audience in Marlborough.”
Preparation for the cello concerto stems back to Caitlin’s university days where she first studied the piece. “To perform this in front of an audience, you must be secure in your own playing. It is a process that Andrew and I have gone through, deciding on the interpretation, going through the details, and memorising them. We have spent many long hours and late nights playing together and practicing technique.
It is wonderful to have someone who understands the level of commitment intrinsically and work together toward creating something like this.”
Captivating audiences across the board, Caitlin and Andrew’s journeys have been defined by their exceptional talents, innovative spirits, and commitment to teaching the next generation of young musicians and pushing the boundaries of classical music.
Caitlin and Andrew will perform on Saturday August 19 and Sunday August 20, visit marlboroughcivicorchestra.org for more information.