Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Orchestra Wellington’s fifth concert excels with last works of Berlioz, Bartok and Tchaikovsky (almost)

By , 15/10/2016
This was the once-a-year event for the young musicians involved with the Hutt Valley Arohanui Strings, the project inspired by the famous Venezuelan institution, El Sistema. They filed in after some of Orchestra Wellington’s players had taken their seats: the more advanced ones taking seats alongside a professional player as mentor, the beginners across the front of the stage – some of them looked aged about four. They were conducted... read more

Revelatory chamber music experiences from London Conchord Ensemble

By , 13/10/2016
An overseas ensemble of eight distinguished players is a rare event for Chamber Music New Zealand, even more so when most are principal players in leading British orchestras, chamber groups or music academies; an ensemble as various in backgrounds and careers as the music they played. They never all played together, apart from the encore, party pieces: bits of Brahms’s Hungarian dances. Other than at the concerts in the four... read more

Streeton Trio, at Waikanae, offers persuasive, unfamiliar music but lacked a masterpiece

By , 09/10/2016
The Streeton Piano Trio was named for the important Australian painter Arthur Streeton, though I don’t know whether there was any reason for making the connection with the visual arts. The trio has twice toured New Zealand before, in 2012 and 2013, when they made a very good impression; Middle C reviewed their concerts at Waikanae. Mozart dropped for Debussy Their advertised programme had begun with Mozart’s early trio in G... read more

America: NZSO performances of brilliant new violin concerto plus Dvořák in New York and Reich in minimalist heaven

By , 08/10/2016
Once upon a time to have scheduled the New World Symphony would have guaranteed a pretty full house in spite of its being accompanied by unfamiliar music. But sometimes I think that as the years pass, the general public is becoming, not more open and adventurous, and simply ‘well-informed’ in the arts, and music too, but less in all those spheres. And there are various reasons: slavery to the flat... read more

Adventures in great music both well-known and unknown, marks strong revival by Cantoris

By , 02/10/2016
In many ways, an appealing way to design a programme: two of Mozart’s best-loved choral works and one obscure, but as it emerged, beautiful piece by an almost totally unknown composer. Emanuele d’Astorga was born in Sicily in 1680, in perhaps the most fruitful and brilliant decade in the whole history of western classical music – the decade of Vivaldi, Telemann, Rameau, Bach, Handel, Biber, Geminiani, Pachelbel, Domenico Scarlatti... read more

Passage of the Soul – commemorative and reflective beauty at Wellington Cathedral

By , 02/10/2016
It was originally intended that “Passage of the Soul”, the name given to a concert of Eastern Orthodox choral music, would take place in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, in Wellington’s Hania Street. For those of us who hadn’t been to the venue the chance to do so represented an additional incentive to attend this Baroque Voices concert, which was evocatively subtitled “Choral Whispers... read more

Challenging and enterprising concert “Freedom and Captivity” and the like, from Nota Bene

By , 01/10/2016
This concert was entitled Freedom and Captivity, reflecting, in music and words, on the experience and problems faced in wars, in colonisation, in racism and other forms of oppression. A good example of what might still be to some, an improper mixing of art and politics (recall sport and politics a generation ago). It is a worthy and fruitful topic which has inspired a lot of music and other arts... read more

Sweeney Todd – powerful and disturbing theatre at St.James’, Wellington

By , 30/09/2016
Stuart Maunder, New Zealand Opera's chief, and the director of the company's current production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd", showing at Wellington's St.James Theatre, called the show in a welcome message written in the programme "a meaty night out at the opera". I admit I took fright for an instant, irrespective of my largely carnivorous food preferences history. It was just that I didn't really fancy watching a series... read more

Mature performances by undergraduate NZSM guitar students at St Andrew’s

By , 28/09/2016
This student recital was a showcase for an honours student (Solomon) set beside four first and second year students. The test for the audience might have been to have asked them to identify the levels of accomplishment of each, without knowing their place in the academic hierarchy. Without denigrating the splendid playing of Solomon, I was often surprised at both the skill and the interpretive insights displayed by the... read more

High drama, pastoral beauty and symphonic grandeur from the WCO with Michael Vinten

By , 25/09/2016
It’s always fascinating to encounter the efforts of musicians who aren’t full-time professional players literally throwing themselves wholeheartedly at music that’s challenging and difficult, however well-known it might seem. I can claim to having had some limited but nevertheless exhilarating experience as such a player in an amateur orchestra, in another life! – what a pleasure it was, that of being able to listen “from the inside” to various... read more

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