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Lothlorien was formed in early 1996 by group members Nicole Leonard (whistles/keyboards/Celtic harp/violin/ mandolin/bodhran), Chris Lloyd (guitar/bouzouki/mandola/vocals), and Tamzin Wood (vocals/bodhran/whistles). Since then, they have played regularly at various Auckland, NZ, folk clubs, with guest appearances at Titirangi, Tir na N'og, Devonport, East Coast, and Troubadour, as well as private events.
1997 saw Lothlorien and invited guests playing to full houses at their concert series in Auckland's Pumphouse Theatre. The events were titled Celtic Voices. The following January, Lothlorien performed at the Auckland Folk Festival, playing the final bracket of the Welcome Concert, in their first "official" appearance there. Later, in June, they held another concert at the Pumphouse, selling out once again. Lopdell House performances followed in September. Lothlorien also guested at the Wellington Folk Festival in October 1998. Then they returned to the Pumphouse yet again in November. In 1999, Lothlorien participated in the Auckland Folk Festival Invitation Concert, at played at Tir na N'og again in August, and returned to the Katikati Folk Club in November, to a very enthusiastic audience.
In January 2000, at the Auckland Folk Festival, Lothlorien appeared again, as festival guests. At the same time, they also released their first album, Greenwood Side. They cite this combination of events as both a year and a career highlight. Repeat performances at Tir na N'og, Titirangi and the Pumphouse as Celtic Voices followed. Then in 2001, an even greater career highlight arrived — Lothlorien's album Greenwood Side won the Folk Album of the Year in the Tui: New Zealand Music Awards for 2001. (The Tuis are New Zealand's equivalent of the Grammys.)