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Michael Sun

Our year 9 student, Michael Sun will head to France this week to play a series of concerts to commemorate New Zealand’s role in saving three French towns in World War I.


Michael Sun, 14, is part of the Aotea Youth Symphony Orchestra which has been invited by the mayor of Arras, France, to help celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the recapture and freeing of the towns of Arras, La Quesnoy, and Longueval.

“I’m a New Zealander and I feel a connection with the commemoration and the trip,” said Michael who has played the clarinet since he was eight. “It’s important, because of the New Zealand soldiers that fought in France. Hopefully I’ll learn more about the history while I’m there.”

Symphony Music Director, Paul Harrop, said that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the group. “This trip is much bigger than just a concert tour in France, and more than the players, the conductor and the management ever thought possible. The diplomatic ties, the history of the first world war, the 100 year celebrations back in New Zealand, and of course the music; this trip has it all,” he explained.

This is not the first time that music has taken Michael Sun around the world.

He started learning with famous American clarinet player, Keith Lipson as a youngster. When he was 11, he went to America with the Golden Sail Youth Symphony Orchestra to take part in the U.S. Beacon-Stanislaus International Instrument Competition. The Orchestra won the top prize and Michael received an Excellent Performer award. At the age of 12 he won the Turgeon prize at the Asian Youth Arts Talent Annual Festival.

Our Principal Nathan Villars said: “Michael is a fine young man who reflects the Sunderland philosophy of generating all-round students who perform to their potential academically and involve themselves fully in wider life, both within the school and outside it. Michael is a top basketball player as well as his passion for music.”