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Talented UC music graduate shines as composer and performer

22 August 2023

UC master’s graduate Rakuto Kurano, a rising young composer and musician, will perform one of his own pieces at his upcoming graduation celebration in Christchurch.


Rakuto Kurano. Photo credit: Petra Mingneau.

An award-winning composer, Rakuto is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most active touring artists and this month, he graduates from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) with a Master of Music degree.

As well as accepting his degree at UC’s graduation celebration at Wolfbrook Arena on 29 August, the 23-year-old will perform a composition he wrote last year called Blooming. His quartet brings together an accomplished group of musicians who have all studied at UC; Rakuto and Aya McLarty on violin, Henry Nicholson playing viola, and cellist Amy McMurdo.

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Rakuto’s flair as a composer and multi-instrumentalist performer will also be in the spotlight at Noteworthy, a concert at the Christchurch Town Hall on 26 August.

Celebrating UC’s 150th anniversary, the concert is by UC Music in collaboration with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Kurano’s Concerto Grosso is one of the pieces on the programme that showcases composers and performers in the University community. Drawing on the past while looking to the future, Concerto Grosso blends the sound world of the Italian baroque with a contemporary aesthetic, producing a fusion of old and new.

Rakuto says it’s a great feeling for him to have his compositions showcased in this way, especially at Noteworthy as he is the only recent graduate to have work performed at the concert.

“I’m thrilled that Professor Mark Menzies, [UC Head of Performance] will be conducting as he has been my main teacher since 2017. It is a real honour to perform with him and to have been able to work and study with him for so long.”

Born in Japan, Rakuto moved to Aotearoa New Zealand with his whānau in 2008. He was drawn to music from a young age, playing piano from age four and violin from age eight. He first connected with the UC School of Music programme while still a student at Cashmere High School.

A highlight from his UC master’s studies was a concert earlier this year in which the programme was entirely comprised of his own compositions. An inspiring music educator, Rakuto’s postgraduate Honours research was focused on effective methods of teaching violin.

As the co-founder of the charitable Magic Carpet Music Trust, Rakuto is passionate about growing more performance opportunities for young musicians and has also personally funded and commissioned works by seven young Kiwi composers.

Rakuto is looking forward to a bright future as a composer and performer. “UC School of Music has really helped me to do both these things and I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity here.”

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