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A student from Victoria University of Wellington Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music has become the first New Zealander to be accepted into the prestigious JM Jazz World Orchestra.


The JM Jazz World Orchestra has been running since 2012 and brings together young jazz musicians from around the world to tour the international jazz circuit and be directed by international musicians.

Saxophonist Louisa Williamson is in her second year of a Bachelor of Music majoring in Jazz Performance at Victoria. She began studying earlier than most students, leaving high school in Taupo after completing sixth form to study music in Wellington.

“I have a passion for jazz because it combines freedom and discipline at the same time. It’s a really rewarding genre if you put in the hard work.”

Louisa was selected from over 120 applicants for the 2016 JM Jazz World Orchestra, and says her time at Victoria has been important to her success because of the ongoing support her tutors provide.

“They put a lot of pressure on—in a good way. They encourage me to practise and work hard. I’ve definitely spent a lot of hours at school practising.”

Louisa says the most exciting part of being accepted into the Jazz World Orchestra is that she’ll be a part of getting New Zealand jazz onto an international platform.

“Jazz is considered fairly new to New Zealand, when compared with the United States and Europe. Being accepted to the Jazz World Orchestra is the biggest opportunity I’ve had in terms of my music, but it also means a lot for New Zealand jazz. People overseas don’t realise how much is going on down here in the jazz scene.”

Louisa will perform as tenor saxophone under the orchestra’s artistic director Luis Bonilla who is an acclaimed trombonist, composer and arranger. She will also learn and collaborate with her fellow orchestra members—nineteen musicians from fourteen different countries.

Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music Director Euan Murdoch says the opportunity for Louisa is fantastic.

“We are very proud of Louisa’s achievement. She will be a great ambassador for music at Victoria and for jazz in Aotearoa.”

Louisa will meet the orchestra in Germany in June, and will tour Europe in July before returning to Victoria to complete her studies.