Picture - Dean Zillwood Pianist Michael Houstoun has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. It’s the third-highest honour that can be awarded, just below being made a member of the elite Order of New Zealand, and being knighted. Houstoun ‘came out’ on national television in the documentary Piano Man which screened on TV1 in 2006. Viewers were almost immediately introduced to his long-time partner Mike at the country cottage they share in Feilding. Born in Timaru in 1952, Houstoun began learning to play the piano at age five. By the age of 18 had won every major competition in New Zealand. In 1973 he entered the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition where he placed third. Other international competition successes came in 1975 at the Leeds Competition (fourth prize) and in 1982 at the Tchaikowsky Competition (sixth prize). Michael lived away from New Zealand from 1974 until 1981 and in this time studied with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and with Brigitte (‘Gigi’) Wild in London). He performed in the USA, UK, Germany and Holland. In 1981 Michael followed his heart back to New Zealand where he has continued to live and concertise ever since, performing also in Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. He plays from a large repertoire which stretches from JS Bach to the present day, including 40 concertos and chamber music. A strong advocate of New Zealand music, works from Douglas Lilburn to John Psathas are regularly featured in his programmes. During the 1990s he concentrated on the music of Beethoven, playing the complete sonatas in five cycles around New Zealand - Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier. He played the concerto cycle in NZ and Australia. Michael won the Turnovsky Prize in 1982, and in 1999 received an honorary doctorate in literature from Massey University. Michael frequently adjudicates music competitions in New Zealand, and in 1998 was a juror at the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition in Salt Lake City. He is Patron of the Nelson School of Music, the Regent on Broadway theatre in Palmerston North, the New Zealand Music Examinations Board and the Kerikeri National Piano Competition.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Monday, 4th June 2012 - 11:13am
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