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Adam Summer School Alumni Spotlight - Tabea Squire

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 30 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 29th annual Adam Summer School in 11 - 19 February 2023, we decided to catch up with one of our alumni to see what they're up to now and how the summer school has impacted their career.


Tabea Squire, violinist

Years Attended: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015

Tabea Squire has a BMus, a GradDip and Honours in performance from the New Zealand School of Music, where she studied for five and a half years under Helene Pohl. She has been commissioned to write works for many chamber and orchestra groups (including the NZSQ). She has had works performed in all the major cities of New Zealand, and also at the 2012 Australian Harp Festival in Adelaide, in Melbourne, and in London. She has been a finalist at the NZSM Composers' competition five times, winning runner-up prizes four times out of the five. She was the NZSO/NYO Young composer-in-residence in 2008, and is so far the youngest to have been the awarded this residency. She has had pieces workshopped at the NZSO/Todd Corporation Young Composer Awards four times, and was awarded 'commended' and 'highly commended' in separate years of the awards.

Describe your Summer School experience in three words.

Three words?? Three words?! Look, anyone who tutored me or played with me at Adam Summer School knows I can't restrict myself to that few! And having played at it so often, the three words 'Adam Summer School' have a wealth of wonderful associations with them, so the words would probably have to be those. But maybe I could do three common experiences, which were common to every time I attended? In which case:

Sun-drenched rehearsals with tutors,
Warm evening walks back to the hostel,
New, wonderful and thrilling musical discoveries.

What motivated you to apply?

I was studying under Helene Pohl, so it was natural of her to suggest the summer school, and once I'd been once, I couldn't stop at just that one time.

What is your most memorable moment from Adam Summer School?

That's tricky. I did attend six times, after all! But I think my favourite memory is from one of my later years at the school. There was a lack of rehearsal spaces, so one evening, a group just set up on the pavement outside the school building and played out there. Of course, it wasn't exactly a pedestrian thoroughfare, but people did come by, and hearing the chamber music played free under open air in the sunset light is a treasured memory.

How has your Summer School experience shaped the musician you are today?

I have written a decent amount of chamber music professionally, and I'm sure I would not have been so confident in writing for the ensembles if I had not had the experience from the Adam Summer School. The first few times I attended, I would go so far as to bring the scores for all the other pieces being played, and follow along during masterclasses; the tutors would often impart knowledge about the nature of the ensembles, as much as the individual instruments. That way, I learned about ensembles I hadn't played in, and the tutors would talk about the ensemble and the music just as much as the technicalities of the individual instruments.

There was always an, as it were, 'holistic' approach to the music - technical, theoretical, historical, musical, intuitive - which would be hard to replicate anywhere else.

What have you been up to since Adam Summer School?

I haven't performed very much, but my professional composing career is definitely taking off! It is a little surreal sometimes to find that my former teachers and tutors are now playing my music, but it's also lovely to have had that background connection with them.

And what's next?

I'll keep composing, and when I'm able, I pick up my violin and work towards something there, too. I can't separate composing from playing, so even if I'm not up onstage in concert halls, the ability to make music on instruments drives the ability to put it on the page. I wouldn't be a composer at all if I hadn't already been such a keen player.


Join us at the Adam Summer School Finale Concerts to witness the future of chamber music!

Presented by the New Zealand String Quartet and generously sponsored by the Adam Foundation, Adam Summer School provides the opportunity for up to 30 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, Rae de Lisle.

Finale Concerts, Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, Sunday 19 February, 3pm & 7pm

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