Year 13 student reaches the finals in the NZSM Concerto Competition

Otis Prescott-Mason is a seventeen year old currently at St Patrick’s College, and is one of three finalists in the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī annual Concerto Competition.

Otis Prescott-Mason

The competition is open to all students enrolled at NZSM, and while Otis is still at secondary school, he is also enrolled in a Certificate of Proficiency at Victoria University of Wellington, taking four music courses in 2020.

He began his university studies in 2019 under the STAR programme offered by NZSM. This programme allows students in years 12-13 at school to enrol in a performance course at the University worth 15 points. Otis says he found the programme very helpful “I gained exposure to the university environment and had a better sense of what university life would be like.”

When asked how he juggles school, practise and university work, he says it’s a challenge, especially when multiple deadlines are coming up, but he makes it work. “What I try to do is break my practise sessions into chunks and then do other work in between the chunks.”

Otis will perform Saint-Saëns’ second piano concerto for the finals, with the hope of winning the first prize and the opportunity to perform the work with the NZSM Orchestra later in the year. Saint-Saëns wrote the concerto in three weeks and had very little time to prepare for the premiere. Otis however, will be “doing lots of practising at the piano and studying of the score away from the piano” in preparation for his performance.

Otis’s piano teachers at NZSM are Dr Jian Liu and Emma Sayers, and he hopes to continue his studies at NZSM once he finishes school.

Head of Piano Studies Jian Liu says that Otis is always curious and enthusiastic about music. “He has a natural musicianship that makes others want to hear what he has say in a piece. It is a great pleasure for me to support and guide a young talent like him.”