Michael started playing saxophone at age 14. He studied at Victoria University (Bachelor of Music) and Massey University (Honours, 1st class) with Deborah Rawson. He received a Massey University Cultural Award, a grant from Creative NZ, and the prestigious Patricia Pratt Music Scholarship, enabling him to undertake Masters study with Johan van der Linden at the Messiaen Academie in the Netherlands.
He undertook a 3-month exchange to the Conservatoire National de Région, Strasbourg, France, where he studied with Phillippe Geiss. While in France, Michael participated in masterclasses and perfomances with Etienne Rolin, Elipsos Saxophone Quartet and Jean-Marie Londeix. Michael also took lessons from Claude Delangle, Christian Wirth, Vincent David and Philippe Bracquart at the French Saxophone Summer School at Gap.
Michael is in demand as an orchestral and chamber saxophonist, working regularly with groups such as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Radio Chamber Orchestra (NL) and Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. He is the soprano saxophonist and founding member of the Hanumi Saxophone Quartet, and member of the Four Baritones and Rata Trio.
Michael is the saxophon section leader of the Royal New Zealand Navy Band.
Michael teaches classical saxophone performance at Auckland University School of Music, and is a D’Addario Woodwinds (RICO Reeds) and Selmer-Paris (saxophones and mouthpieces) performing artist.
Starting at the age of 9, Yoshiko Tsuruta learned Marimba privately in Japan.
After relocating to New Zealand in 2004, she graduated from the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington in music performance in 2010, having studied under Bruce McKinnon, Laurence Reese, Bud Jones and Jeremy Fitzsimons. She moved to Austria in 2010 and has completed her Master’s Degree (1st Class) at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität in Linz. There she studied marimba with Bogdan Bacanu and percussion with Leonhard Schmidinger.
Yoshiko has won several prizes, including the 1st prizes in both the New Zealand School of Music Concerto Competition and the New Zealand National Concerto Competition, and the Brass/Percussion Prize in Gisborne Competition. She reached the semi-final of the International Marimba Competition in Salzburg in 2012. Most recently, she received the 2nd prize and all the extra prizes at the International Australian Marimba Competition in 2016.
As a soloist, Yoshiko has performed in several concertos on marimba with different orchestras, including Christchurch Symphony Orchestra(Christchurch), St Matthew’s Chamber orchestra (Auckland), NZSM Orchestra (Wellington) and Waikato University Orchestra (Hamilton).
She was the principal Percussion of the National Youth Orchestra in 2008 and is currently the principal timpanist of Opus Orchestra.
Since returning from Europe Yoshiko endeavours to promote classical percussion in New Zealand, especially the marimba. As one of the very few dedicated“marimbists” in the country, she gives solo performances as well as chamber music with various artists, such as ‘Rata Trio’ (Saxophone, Bass Clarinet and Marimba). In 2016, she formed a marimba/percussion duo with Jeremy Fitzsimons and toured NZ for Chamber Music New Zealand. Her repertoire includes her own arrangements, with which she explores the expressive possibilities of the marimba beyond the stereotype as a percussion instrument.
Yoshiko also teaches and gives master classes/workshops on different occasions, such as the National Brass Band Championships, where she was the jury for the percussion solo/ensemble section (2013).