Lorelle McNaughton

Introducing Lorelle McNaughton: experienced pianist and teacher, with a strong interest in Spanish repertoire, joins the PNJA staff.

The Pettman Academy is delighted to welcome New Zealand pianist Lorelle McNaughton onto the teaching team. Lorelle brings a wealth of experience as a musician and educator, having performed extensively in Australia, Europe and Aotearoa, and given lecture-recitals in several major Australian cities. One of her specialist areas is Spanish repertoire, notably works by Albéniz, Granados and de Falla, and she looks forward to sharing this knowledge as part of her teaching for the PNJA.   

Lorelle began her career at the University of Auckland, completing her Bachelor of Music under the tutelage of Rae de Lisle, Natalia Ricci and Read Gainsford. She then completed her postgraduate studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, graduating with First Class Honours and a Master of Music, and winning several scholarships, competitions and awards in the process, including Creative NZ’s Jack McGill Music Scholarship and the Australian Postgraduate Award. Her interest in the Spanish repertory naturally took her to the Academia Marshall and Liceu Conservatori in Barcelona, where she studied with Marta Zabaleta, Albert Attenelle and Carlota Garriga. Lorelle feels particularly honoured to study under such experts, pointing out that “their lineage of teachers connects directly to the great composers themselves, which meant that they could pass on invaluable knowledge about the works I was studying.” 

In addition to performing works by Albéniz, Granados and de Falla she also focused on lesser-known Spanish composers such as Mompou, Soler, Halffter, Turina and Montsalvatge. One of her many notable achievements is a complete performance of Albéniz’s Iberia suite, a truly fine accomplishment given that it is widely considered to be one of the most challenging piano works in the repertory. Lorelle wrote about her interpretations of this work for her Honours and Masters theses and describes it as “a suite consisting of twelve picturesque pieces of immense complexity, evoking various regions and landscapes of Spain and depicting many wonderful aspects of the vibrant Spanish culture.” 

Since 2010 Lorelle has performed to great acclaim with the ‘Estrella’ piano quartet, and their debut album Tui, consisting of eight-hand piano works by various New Zealand composers, reached number one in Radio NZ’s Classical Charts. In 2013 she co-founded the first Spanish Music and Dance Symposium in Sydney, which involved a series of lectures, recitals, masterclasses and workshops by numerous international artists. More recently Lorelle has given a performance on Michael Parekowhai’s beautiful carved piano He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, as part of the ‘Oceania’ Exhibition, described by Lorelle as one of the many highlights of her performing career. She has also performed two concerts titled ‘Songs of Spain’ for the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival and appeared as a soloist with the Hawke’s Bay Orchestra, playing Grieg’s famous Piano Concerto in A minor. 

This coming October Lorelle will be giving a recital for the opening ceremony at the NZ Junior Piano Competition, and later in the year will perform Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals in Hawke’s Bay. She has been selected as a Chamber Music NZ touring artist for 2021 and will present thirteen recitals of music by Spanish and French composers throughout the country. Looking further into the future, Lorelle aims to record Albéniz’s complete Iberia suite and Granados’ Goyescas suite along with other Spanish works.

There is no doubt that 2020 has been an unprecedented challenge for all musicians and teachers; many of Lorelle’s concerts have been cancelled or postponed and she has had to adjust rather quickly to teaching piano lessons online: “it was a bit of a challenge at first but I’ve been surprised at how well it can work (if the internet and microphone connections are good!). I think that online lessons / masterclasses may become more common across the globe even after the pandemic, although I still believe they cannot compare to working with someone in person!” 

Lorelle describes the PNJA as “a fantastic opportunity for Aotearoa’s young musicians that can open up a world of possibilities for their futures.” She is looking forward to working with New Zealand’s enthusiastic and dedicated young pianists, and to sharing some of the knowledge she has gained from her studies both here and overseas. In particular she hopes to pass on her knowledge of Spanish repertoire and introduce some of the eight-hand ensemble works to the students.