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Talented Duo Heading EIT’s Music Programme

December 20, 2011

Two high achievers in the world of music will run EIT’s new certificate programme in contemporary music performance. 

Lecturer Tom Pierard and learning facilitator Ron Kessels have enjoyed meteoric careers, and they will be bringing very considerable experience and skills to their new roles at EIT.

For Tom – whose Napier family has long been associated with musical achievement – it will be a return to his Hawke’s Bay roots.   

Moving to Wellington to study for a Bachelor of Music (performance) majoring in jazz and latin drumset  and percussion, he went on to work as a self-employed musician, teaching and performing for the last nine years.

He plays in the Strike Percussion ensemble which is known for its powerful and theatrical performances.  Movement-based and choreographed, the high-energy drumming group incorporates influences from a wide range of genres. 

 Strike Percussion has toured overseas, performed at the World of Wearable Arts and for the New Zealand Ballet and played as soloists with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Chamber Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vector Wellington Orchestra. 

Tom’s move to Hawke’s Bay also involves a lifestyle change for wife Melissa, who joins Future Products Group Ltd in Napier as a conceptual designer. 

“Melissa is formerly from Whanganui but has always wanted to move here,” Tom explains.  “She was offered her job after I was shortlisted for the EIT position.  As we both got jobs in Napier, we thought it must be appropriate for us.  We feel a bit lucky.”

Originally from The Netherlands, Ron moved to Hawke’s Bay in 2010 year so that wife Trudy, originally from Taradale, could set up a homeopathy business. 

As a self-employed sound and audiovisual technician, he has worked with some of the best-known bands in the industry – Muse, Snow Patrol and Crosby Stills and Nash.  

His career has involved considerable travel – touring with performers and also working at events such as the Glastonbury Festival, Big Day Out, and Rhythm and Vines.

Like Tom, Ron loves percussion – “as well as doing the sound for bands, I have enjoyed playing the drums in bands since I was 14.”

Both say it was a diverse group who took part in the first audition recently for the new programme at EIT.  Would-be students covered a wide range of ages and included musicians who play the saxophone, drums, base guitar and keyboard and enthusiasts of rap, big band, heavy metal and electronics.    Several places may be available for the final audition on January 10.

A driver in establishing the certificate programme at EIT, Assistant Head of School for Arts and Design Chris Verburg is excited that it is being led by talented, well-known and well-travelled professional musicians.

“People involved in the Hawke’s Bay music scene feel it’s significant that high calibre tertiary study in contemporary music is being offered to school-leavers and others who might otherwise leave the region.

 “Those completing the programme will be among those forming the next wave of bands and contribute to a vibrant future for music performance in Hawke’s Bay.”

Mr Verburg says the local community has embraced the programme and overwhelmed EIT with offers of practical support.