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Performing Arts Awards

The following students have been appointed to a leadership role in a Music Performance group at Auckland Grammar School. They will support staff and colleagues through the management and artistic leadership of their groups, and will take an active role in building collegiality and a productive creative environment.

Auckland Grammar School has a proud history of excellence within the Performing Arts. The school offers a variety of pathways within the arts for boys to develop and showcase their skills and talents.

From Theatre to Drama, Cultural to Music groups, Debating and more, the Performing Arts are a fundamental component of our school and allow boys to reach the pinnacle in their chosen field. It was a privilege that last year we could institute the Performing Colour and that tradition can continue with recognising individual excellence from within the Performing Arts.

Each year Auckland Grammar students perform on a variety of Performing Arts stages and contexts both within the school and externally. To individually excel at the highest level of their chosen field requires considerable dedication, commitment, practice and rehearsal.

These recipients have also been assisted along their journey by dedicated teachers, mentors and tutors. We are fortunate to have staff who continue to commit significant time to support these groups and students. Without this commitment and support from our Grammar staff the breadth of opportunities for you as students would not be there.

On Wednesday 29 November 2023, during the Colours and Performing Arts Assembly, seven students received Performing Arts Awards. There were also three special Performing Arts awards for Excellence, Contribution and Outstanding Performance of the Year.

The Performing Arts Excellence Award is given to the student who, by quality of performance and all-round effort, has contributed and excelled most in his given Performing Arts activity, and the 2023 recipient is Prefect J. B. Brown (above left).

Brown has exhibited a dedication and passion for music throughout his tenure at School, particularly shining in the school choirs, Grammarphonics and Grammar Voices and the Big Band. His active involvement extended to leadership roles, such as leading Grammarphonics and establishing an acapella vocal ensemble, showcasing his musical talent and leadership skills.

Brown’s commitment to musical excellence is evident in his clear goals and unwavering pursuit of success. This dedication has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers, juniors, and teachers, fostering a positive and inspiring atmosphere within our music community. Brown stands as a role model, exemplifying both dedication and leadership.

His achievements include reaching the Minister’s Plate Competition finals as a classical baritone singer. Brown demonstrated leadership by conducting Grammar Voices at the Big Sing Secondary School Choral Festival and contributing as a singer for the Big Band in the National Youth Jazz competition. His musical prowess extended to his selection as a bass singer in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Choir.

The Performing Arts Contribution Award is given to the student who has given most whole-heartedly and most widely to the Performing Arts activities of the School, and the 2023 recipient is Prefect T. J. Sawyer (above right).

Sawyer is a dedicated member of numerous Performing Arts groups at our School. His commitment to excellence in his artistic pursuits is commendable, consistently demonstrated through his exceptional work ethic as a performer.

Sawyer has been actively involved in Performing Arts groups such as the Big Band, Theatresports, Grammarphonics, Grammar Voices, Concert Band, the Symphony Orchestra and School Productions.

His commitment extends beyond personal achievements, Sawyer actively contributes to the music community by attending all rehearsals and assisting fellow students. His exemplary communication skills, politeness, resourcefulness, and respect make him a valuable role model.

The Outstanding Performance of the Year is given to the best individual performance in any performing arts field, and the 2023 recipient is R. R. Ediriweera Wijesuriya.

Ediriweera Wijesuriya is the leader of the School’s Big Band and serving as the drummer for both the Big Band and Jazz Combo. In 2023, he achieved notable success individually and as part of these musical groups.

He secured Gold with the Big Band at the Auckland Jazz Competition, KBB Music Festival and National Jazz Festival. Under his leadership, the Big Band was awarded the New Orleans Trophy, solidifying its status as the premier Big Band in New Zealand.

With the Jazz Combo, he received a Platinum Award at the Auckland Jazz Combo, where he earned the title of Outstanding Soloist for the second consecutive year. The Jazz Combo also received a Gold Award at the National Jazz Festival.

Ediriweera Wijesuriya’s standout performance as an individual occurred at the National Jazz Festival in April. Here, he earned the Most Outstanding Young Musician award and the coveted Lauren Ellis Trophy for Best Big Band Drummer. This recognition as the Most Outstanding Young Musician in a field of diverse, high-calibre, and talented young jazz musicians is undeniably significant.

Ediriweera Wijesuriya’s commitment to self-discipline in his practice, sound development, and innovative approaches to enhance his drumming skills is commendable. His role as drummer and soloist within the context of his groups has inspired his fellow musicians and audience members.

List of 2023 Colours recipients for Performing Arts

J. B. Brown for Choral

Brown is a member of the School’s Big Band, Grammar Voices, and the leader of Grammarphonics.

His achievements include reaching the finals of the Minister’s Plate Competition as a classical baritone singer. Brown showcased his leadership prowess by conducting Grammar Voices at the Big Sing Secondary School Choral Festival and contributing as a singer for the Big Band at the National Youth Jazz competition.

In 2023, Brown led Grammarphonics at the National Big Sing Competition in Auckland. Under his leadership Grammarphonics won the Youth Ambassador Award for the choir that most demonstrates outstanding engagement with all elements of the Finale.

He also secured second place in the Te Reo Māori category for his original 8-part male-voice composition, He Waiata Whaiwhakaaro.

Furthermore, Brown’s talent extended to his selection as a bass singer in the NZ Secondary School Choir.

C. H. S. Cheung for Violin

As a member of Grammar Virtuosi, Cheung showcased his musical prowess by performing a solo violin piece at the prestigious KBB Music Festival. His dedication extends as a member of the Symphony Orchestra, where he skilfully plays the first violin.

In 2023, Cheung’s musical journey reached new heights with the completion of a Diploma in Performance at the ATCL level, a qualification equivalent in standard to the first-year recital of an undergraduate degree.

Since 2022, Cheung has been a member of the Auckland Youth Orchestra, making valuable contributions as a violinist.

W. Lee for Viola

Lee is a member of the School’s Symphony Orchestra, showcasing his talent on the viola. Additionally, he is a member of Grammar Virtuosi, where his proficiency extends to playing a violin solo.

Recognised for his outstanding performance at the North Shore Performing Arts Society Competition, Lee received the Strings Excellence award. In the South Auckland Performing Arts Society Competition, he achieved notable success, securing the Patricia Appleton Trophy for Senior Strings Champion and the Challenge Shield for the Most Charismatic Senior Player. Lee was also a finalist viola player at the School’s Minister’s Plate Competition.

In 2023, Lee participated in a group performance of Prokofiev Solo Sonata Opus 115, movement 1, led by Monique Lapins of the New Zealand String Quartet, contributing significantly to the Auckland String Sessions.

Since 2021, Lee has been a valued member of the Auckland Youth Orchestra, showcasing his exceptional talent on the viola.

S. T. Manning for Choral

As a member of Grammar Voices and Grammarphonics since 2020, Manning has been instrumental in the success of both groups, notably contributing to the achievements of Grammarphonics at the National Big Sing Competition this year.

His vocal talent and dedication were recognised nationally, earning a place in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Choir as a tenor singer.

In addition to his choral contributions, Manning has showcased his theatrical prowess in School Productions. This year, he was cast in the role of Lucas Beineke in the associated Production with St Cuthbert’s College of The Addams Family.

S. H. A. S. Peita for Public Speaking – Ngā Manu Kōrero

In 2023, Peita made history at the Te Whaitua o Uenuku regional Ngā Manu Kōrero Speech Competition, winning the Korimako section for the third time in the School’s history.

His prepared speech at the competition received high praise from judges and the audience. In the impromptu section, Peita eloquently emphasised the transformative power of education. This victory saw Peita compete at the National Ngā Manu Kōrero competition in Dunedin at the end of Term 3.

Furthermore, Peita has made significant contributions as a leader in the school’s Kapa Haka group, guiding them this year in Division 1 at the ASB Polyfest competition. Peita’s accomplishments reflect his individual talent and his dedication to promoting his culture.

T. J. Sawyer for Drama

Sawyer has been involved in School Productions since 2020. In 2023, he was cast in the lead role of the associated Production with St Cuthbert’s College of The Addams Family, where he played the family matriarch Gomez Addams.

Sawyer delivered a captivating portrayal of Gomez Addams in the production, bringing depth and charisma to the iconic character.

Last month, Sawyer was recognised for his performance and crowned the winner of the Auckland Live Showdown Award for Best Performer in a Lead Role in a Musical for 2023.