Katherine Austin

"...[Katherine Austin] is mercurial, alert and a supreme colourist.. I'd put her among the top six pianists in the country and almost unrivalled as a chamber ensemble pianist." 

Ian Dando, The Listener

Head of Piano Studies for the University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music, Katherine Austin is one of New Zealand’s leading pianists and performs regularly around NZ and overseas, touring frequently for Chamber Music New Zealand, and broadcasting regularly on Radio New Zealand Concert.

Pianist of the Tennant-Austin Duo for the past 23 years, her work with the New Zealand Chamber Soloists (since 2006) now occupies a large portion of her performing and concert life, with regular tours to Europe, UK, Asia, North and South America, and Australia, and invitations to give master-classes in such institutions as the Yong Siew Toh Academy of Music (Singapore), the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the Yehudi Menuhin School (UK), Interlochen Arts Academy (USA), the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), Monash University (Melbourne) and the Vicenza Conservatory of Music (Italy).

Many works have been commissioned for the NZ Chamber Soloists and the Tennant-Austin Duo from New Zealand’s leading composers. CDs include Corybas –the complete chamber works of John Psathas for piano with strings (3 of the 5 works written for Katherine Austin and her musical partners), Ahi - with works by NZ composers Farr, Lodge, Williams, Griffiths and Psathas, and Elegy –moving elegiac piano trios by Rachmaninov, Babajanian and Shostakovich, which received international acclaim.

Katherine Austin has also released 2 CDs on the Atoll label , one with great Russian Sonatas for Cello and Piano, the other “Diable Vert”, performing virtuoso and romantic duo works, with cello sensation Santiago Canon Valencia, also to critical acclaim. In 2016 a new musical venture, the Trans-Tasman Piano Duo, was formed with leading Australian pianist- pedagogue Glenn Riddle (Melbourne University) and many concert invitations in Australia and NZ have ensued.


Katherine graduated Master of Music with First Class Honours in Piano Performance from Auckland University, where her teachers were Janetta McStay and Bryan Sayer. In 1982 she won both the NZ Young Performer of the Year  (PACANZ) and the TVNZ/NZSO New Zealand Young Musician of the Year, playing Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the NZSO. Seven years of study and performance in London and Europe followed, included a full scholarship to the Royal College of Music London to study with renowned Russian pianist and teacher Irina Zaritskaya, as well as postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1987, Austin won the Top Duo Prize in the Stresa International Chamber Music Competition in Italy, performing with cellist Vincenzo Giuliani. 


Austin has performed Romantic piano concerto repertoire with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and has been guest on a number of occasions as concerto soloist with the Auckland Chamber Orchestra and the Opus Orchestra, specialising in the concertos of Mozart and Beethoven. She is also the coordinator behind the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts’ successful ongoing concert series and the producer for the numerous University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music concerts in the central North Island, New Zealand.


Her students from the University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music have been winners of prizes and scholarships including the National Piano Concerto Competition, prize-winners in international competitions, full scholarships to ANAM (Australian National Academy of Music [post graduate performance school]) and to music institutions in Germany and the UK.