Justin Bird is a widely acclaimed pianist, teacher, and collaborator whose fresh interpretations include an affinity for underrated repertoire. He has won the NZ Kapiti Coast International Piano Competition awarding him his USA debut recital in Salt Lake City. He has represented New Zealand as a finalist in the Kowhai Australasian Piano Concerto Competition and was awarded the NZ Young Performer of the Year for piano. He has appeared as a finalist in the NZ Young Musician of the year Competition, and the MTNA National Young Artist Competition in the USA.
In addition to several concerto appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Bird has performed with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland, Wellington and National Youth Orchestras. Two of these were to an audience of over 250,000 people in the Auckland domain. More recently he won concerto competitions awarding performances with both Florida State University Philharmonia and the Indiana University Orchestra. Taking advantage of the talented musicians at IU he joined forces with conductor Nicholas Hersh to give a memorable performance of the Delius Piano Concerto which was filmed and published online.
As a young pianist he studied with Rae de Lisle, then in later years with Bryan Sayer at the University of Auckland. He then continued study in the USA with Read Gainsford at Ithaca College and Florida State University, and Marian Hahn at the Peabody Institute. Bird is currently a Doctorate in Music candidate studying with André Watts at the Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music. He has also been privileged to play for Leon Fleisher, John Perry, Roy Howat, and Michael Houston among others.
Bird also thrives as an accompanist and chamber musician, and has twice been part of the winning group in the NZ National Chamber Music Contest. He has worked with many contemporary music ensembles performing on celeste, harmonium and harpsichord. His recent studies incorporate his interest in early keyboard instruments, piano tuning, and conducting. He also plays the violin and viola and loves to play in orchestras, string quartets, and Christian worship settings.
“It was clear from the first note that he possesses a maturity and a sense of style unusual for an 18 year old, and that his years of performing experience have given him poise and assurance ” – Laurence Jenkins
“Bird’s lilting rhythms and beautifully articulated expressiveness had acquired all the sheen and rubato a Chopin player needs” – Lindis Taylor, The Dominion Post
“Bird showed himself instinctively sensitive … to the sonority of the instrument under his fingers, making it sing and dance by turns” – Heath Lees, NZ Herald
“Bird’s impressive musicianship bestowed upon the music real character and grace … played with the maturity and insight of a gifted professional” – Heath Lees, NZ Herald
“Displayed a nice sense of the dramatic, a fine technique and real poetic sense. He is a pianist to watch” – John Button, The Dominion Post
“His performance grabbed the audience and he showed very clear control with his ears working all the time” – Gloria Saarinen
“Bird showed great flair and sense of colour in Ravel’s Alborado del Gracioso” – Joy Aberdein, Palmerston North Regent Gala
“Musicality becomes the product of maturity and experience. For Justin Bird, it is inherent in his play, his gentle personality and his remarkable ability” “A panoply of piano history under Justin’s hands, each of these masters was given their own personality”
“The recital was an artistic triumph” – Burt Saidel, The Oakwood Register