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Adam Summer School Alumni Spotlight – Arna Morton

The Adam Summer School has provided string players and pianists from across New Zealand and beyond with the opportunity to learn from the very best. Up to 25 students are chosen each year to fully immerse themselves in intensive coaching and masterclasses, culminating in two finale concerts at the stunning Nelson Centre of Musical Arts.

In anticipation of the 28th annual Adam Summer School in 12-20 February 2022, we decided to catch up with a few of our alumni to see what they're up to now and how the summer school has impacted their career. Click here to read our Q&A with fellow alumni: Davina Shum, Ben Booker, and Liam Wooding.


Arna Morton, violinist

Years Attended: 2013, 2016

Arna standing in a sunny, golden field holding her violin and smiling at the camera
Adam Summer School alumna, Arna Morton

Now based in her hometown of Christchurch, Arna Morton attended the Adam Summer School in 2013 and 2016.

Following the completion of both Bachelor and Master of Musical Arts degrees at the New Zealand School of Music under the tutelage of Helene Pohl, Arna completed her PhD in Violin Performance at the University of Melbourne. Arna is the founding member of The Morton Trio, performing regularly alongside her husband and horn player, Alex Morton, and fellow-Kiwi pianist and Adam Summer School alumnus, Liam Wooding.

Arna is the newly appointed Principal 2nd Violin of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Describe your Adam Summer School experience in three words.

Enriching, Enlightening, and FUN!

Who motivated you to apply for the Adam Summer School?

My wonderful teacher at University, Helene Pohl, of course! Only wish I had gone along sooner!

How has the Adam Summer School shaped you to be the musician you are today?

The Summer School dramatically shaped my musical journey, from the technical craft of making music with others, to exploring what it means to really understand and interpret music. It also helped me to become a more sensitive colleague, something I really value now in my role with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Tell us about your most memorable moment from the Adam Summer School.

I still remember the inspiring interpretive coaching session my trio had with Rolf where we made up a narrative together for the Brahms B Major Piano Trio – it featured dragons! To this day, it is still one of my absolute favourite pieces of chamber music to perform.

Three young performers in a piano trio setting, violinist and cellist in concert blacks and pianist in a light blue dress shirt sitting at a Steinway & Sons grand piano.
Arna performing the Brahms Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8 with cellist Anna-Marie Alloway and pianist Ben Booker.

What have you been up to since the Adam Summer School?

Well, I went and did the whole 'overseas thing', although I didn't go too far! I moved to Melbourne in 2014 and gained my PhD in Music Performance at The University of Melbourne, before returning to my hometown of Christchurch where I recently auditioned for and successfully won the position of Principal 2nd Violin of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

What inspires you?

NATURE! I love getting out into the beautiful New Zealand landscapes for hikes and adventures. Also, anything and anyone Danish – I love their way of life, their music, and culture. Happiness & Hygge? Yes, please!

What would you like to say to students who are on the fence about applying for the Adam Summer School?

Don't hesitate! It really was an absolute highlight of my youth – you'll have a blast!


Applications are now open for the 2022 Adam Summer School!

Presented by the New Zealand String Quartet and generously sponsored by the Adam Foundation, Adam Summer School provides the opportunity for up to 25 talented young string players and pianists to commit themselves to eight days of intense chamber music-making under the guidance of the New Zealand String Quartet and guest pianist-in-residence, Diedre Irons.

Applications close on 29 October. Click here for all the info on how to apply.

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