Catherine Kwak completed her Bachelor of Music (Soloist Specialisation Performance Cello) at the age of 18, as a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar at the University of Waikato. She has performed around NZ, USA, the UK and Europe in numerous concerts, competitions and festivals as a soloist and chamber musician. Her main competition successes include being a prizewinner at the 18th International Brahms Cello Competition held in Austria, 2nd Prize 2013 Gisborne International Music Competition and the 2013 ILT National Young Performer of the Year Competition, semifinalist in the 2015 Johansen International Competition for Young Musicians held in Washington DC, and winner 2014 ROSL/Pettman Chamber Music Scholarship Competition.
She started learning cello when she was 7 years old and gained ABRSM Grade 8 cello with High Distinction and the High Achievers’ Cup at the age of 9. From 2005-09 she was a full scholarship student at the Pettman National Junior Academy of Music, and in 2010-12 was a part-time student at the University of Canterbury under the Harry Ellwood Scholarship.
Her performance highlights include the Euro Arts Festival and Academy (Germany), International Summer Academy Biel (Switzerland), Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Scotland), solo recitals in Cologne and Weimar organised by the Abegg Trio (Germany), several concerts in London at places such as St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Princess Alexandra Hall, St James Piccadilly and more. Soloist appearances include the Budweis Philharmonic (Switzerland) and other orchestras in NZ including the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, St Matthew’s Chamber, Devonport Chamber, University of Waikato Orchestra, International Akaroa Summer Festival, and more. She has featured on Radio NZ Concert as well as BBC Norfolk (England).
Catherine has attended masterclasses with world renowned artists and tutors such as Maria Kliegel, Wen-Sinn Yang, Gautier Capucon, Daniel Muller-Schott, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Charles Castleman, professors at the Royal College and Academy of Music (London), Berlin University of the Arts and University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar. Her music studies and travel have been generously funded by scholarships from many individuals and institutions, mainly the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, Pettman Junior Academy of Music, University of Waikato, Adam Foundation, and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Catherine has also trained in classical voice under English tenor Vernon Midgley, Lois Johnston, and Glenese Blake. She won the New Zealand Aria Competition Junior Trophy and has sung in voice classes for Dame Malvina Major.
Since graduating her BMus, Catherine has decided to pursue a different passion in life so she is currently studying for a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Auckland. She still maintains a busy performance and teaching schedule and works as a casual player in the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Opus Orchestra.