He aha te mea nui o te ao? - What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata - It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Toloa Faraimo, Concert Master
Toloa Faraimo, Concert Master

Concert Master Toloa Faraimo, continues to mature as a performer, mentor, youth advocate and positive role model. He juggles the demands of year 13 college life with rehearsing, teaching and performing. In 2019 Toloa featured prominently in the winners circle of the Chamber Music New Zealand competition. He lead the Virtuoso Strings Octet to winning the Peoples Choice award as well as taking overall winning honors with Sixteen Strings as the 1st violinist.

In 2020 he lead the Octet to another gold medal final in the CMNZ competition

In 2021 Toloa hopes to take his music studies to a tertiary level at the Victoria University School of Music combined with a law degree.

The Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust is incredibly humbled and privileged to have Jonathan as our Patron. The Grammy award-winning bass baritone embodies the value and rewards of a work ethic built on continuous improvement and commitment. This is how he maintains his global status as a sought after artist.

Jonathan's other value to the orchestra comes from being a Samoan who has achieved incredible success. This gives him an intimate understanding of our community and the unique cultural capital that our Pasifika point of difference brings. Our students are inspired because of his Pasifika-ness.

Faafetai Jonathan Lemalu, Patron
Faafetai Jonathan Lemalu, Patron

Craig Utting, Co-Founder, Composer,       Musical Director
Craig Utting, Co-Founder, Composer, Musical Director

Craig has a rich and varied career as a professional musician. He is an enthusiastic viola player and vocalist, and a sought-after piano teacher. As a composer his works have been sung and played all over the world. In 2019, an octet from VSO won the Chamber Music NZ People's Choice award with Craig's "Goodnight Kiwi" a short piece written in memory of a former VSO member, Cedric Doak. (You can watch this spine-tingling performance on VSO TV). 

As one of our musical directors, alongside co-founder wife Liz Sneyd, Craig has designed and constructed the entire repertoire of VSO (currently over 300 pieces!) as a researcher, arranger, typesetter, composer and producer.

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