Justine Cormack

Violinist and Creative Performance Coach

Justine Cormack Violinist and Creative Performance Coach

Forging a new path…

After 27 rewarding years as a professional violinist, most recently within NZTrio, in June 2017 I stepped aside from my beloved trio in order to forge a new path.

Two strong intuitive desires directed this change in direction.

The first was a calling to move back to the South Island of New Zealand, where I began my journey in this world. Responding whole-heartedly to that call, my husband and I moved to Central Otago where we now live among the awe-inspiring Southern Alps (pictured below). I simply love the daily engagement with this stunning part of the world. The mountains and surrounding landscapes inspire and nourish me, and I feel that I have returned home.

The second desire was to find a way to actively share the knowledge I have amassed through my career around holistic performance health and success. I have always been passionate about the impact of physical, mental and emotional awareness on performance outcomes. Healthy holistic approaches to performing have always been central to my performance philosopy, and I have consistently explored the impacts of mind-body connection within my own performance. As a result, I have gained valuable insights in regards to what holds us back as performers and, more importantly, what liberates our creativity, confidence and ultimate enjoyment.

Now, as a freelance violinist inspired by variety, I perform as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician/Concertmaster throughout New Zealand with my favourite musicians and ensembles.

I am also thrilled to launch both this website ListenFeelPlay and my Creative Performance Coach business. Both provide a means to actively share my knowledge and creative philosophies. Through the wonders of digital technology, I am able to work with musicians and creative artists world-wide, supporting them to gain objective insight into their creative processes and to access more confidence and freedom of expression. As well as inspiring artists to achieve their true creative potential, I want to support them to LOVE what they do!

More about my career so far…

From 2002 to mid-2017, I was a founding member and violinist of NZTrio. I am hugely proud of the legacy the trio built during these 15 years together. The trio commissioned and performed close to 40 works from NZ composers and proudly showcased these compositions within diverse programmes on the world stage. At my final performance with NZTrio, we were awarded the Lilburn Trust Citation for Outstanding Services to New Zealand Music. You can watch some live performances and listen to recording excerpts of NZTrio on this website.

Committed to bold and colourful presentation, NZTrio also struck up an inspiring relationship with New Zealand’s ‘avant-garde’ luxury fashion house WORLD. I am incredibly fortunate to be continuing this collaboration, proudly wearing their witty and wonderful clothing both onstage and off (as pictured above).

An active recording artist, I regularly guest as Concertmaster, and also often adjudicate for competitions and tertiary exams. Some recent highlights have been my involvement on the first four international judging panels of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, the highly acclaimed release of a Douglas Lilburn Duos recording with pianist Michael Houstoun, and the Radio NZ recording of Chris Watson’s ogee – for solo violin and orchestra with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (subsequently nominated as a finalist for the 2019 SOUNZ Contemporary Award.)

While with NZTrio, we released seven recordings and were nominated on a number of occasions for best classical album as well as best Jazz album in the Vodafone NZ Music Awards – for Vicissitudes with the Mick Nock Trio. In 2017, NZTrio was awarded Best Classical Artist for the Rattle release of Sway.

During my fifteen years with NZTrio, it was a thrill to collaborate broadly across the arts spectrum, working with animated film (David Downes, 2009), contemporary dance (New Zealand Dance Company, 2012/2013), theatre (Massive Company, 2013), voice (tenor Simon O’Neill, 2016) as well as cross-cultural musical works with masters of Maori taonga puoro, Chinese guzheng, and Cambodian traditional instruments. We performed throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia, South America, the USA, Europe and Scandinavia – final highlights for me being a NZ tour of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with UK clarinetist Julian Bliss (2016), and a significant cross-cultural project recording 9 new piano trios by Chinese composers.

Highlights of my orchestral career were my appointments to New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Sub-Principal 1st-Violin in the 1990’s, followed by Concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia from 2000-2004, where I also regularly featured as soloist.

A graduate of the University of Canterbury, I have a Masters degree from San Francisco Conservatory and a Doctoral degree from Stony Brook in New York. I have taught violin at Wellington’s Victoria University and also held a position as Violin Lecturer at The University of Auckland while in residence there with NZTrio. I maintain a private teaching studio for all age groups and levels, and I am currently exploring the use of technology in order to be able to teach people all over the world. My instrument and partner in play is my gorgeous 1868 J.B.Vuillaume violin.

My Performance Philosophy

Unlock the imagination of your ear and the intelligence of your physical body, and embrace a playful attitude.

By listening and feeling with full awareness and clarity of intention, confidence flows, creativity is unleashed, and you will play with natural expression and ease.

Unlocking the imagination of the ear involves precisely fine-tuning what you are listening for. Paying extraordinary attention to both what you intend to hear as you play, and what you actually hear as you play, and objectively comparing the two, gives immediate access to improvement and development of musical expression. These two awarenesses, or realms, may seem to be the same thing, but the creative power is in the objective acknowledgment of how they differ.

  • The intention is generated in the realm of the imagination, and is where our true creative potential resides. The forming of intention begins the creative process.
  • The actual is generated in the realm of the physical and is instigated by and responds to the intention. The actual finishes the creative process.

A key to playing to your creative potential is for the aural picture of these two realms to be identical to each other - in total alignment. When this is achieved, your ear is finely tuned to both your imagination and the sound you are producing. You are in total control in the creative moment of performance.

As a performer, it is vitally important to be aware of your physical body - how you move, and how you feel. We use the body to physically manifest our creative imagination, and how we engage with our body directly correlates to the success and enjoyment of our performance.

The body has enormous intelligence that we can tap into and listen to simply by paying attention to how the body wants to move and feel. Allowing the body's intelligence to guide our movement allows balanced and efficient use of the body. It unlocks natural and rewarding expression and ease. Our creativity has an open channel to self-expression when the body is free and unleashed.

Play refers to the carefree, childlike act of ‘playing’, of exploring and experimenting with curiosity in the creative realm. Play is unhindered by judgement or any sense of limitation, and fully engages the imagination.

Play is having the ability to be light-hearted in the vital creative process of self-evaluation, at the same time developing the ability to support oneself, and nurture self-belief and confidence.