Supported by generous help from the Adam Foundation

A few days in Sydney for opera and symphony

By , 04/01/2016
Readers with sharp eyes will have noticed my absence from the pages of Middle C over the past month. It is partly to be explained by my little trip to Sydney to fulfil a long-standing ambition to see the work of a small Sydney opera company, Pinchgut Opera, which specializes in early opera, of the 17th and 18th centuries. When I edited New Zealand Opera News (till 2006), I... read more

Happy Christmas concert from Nota Bene at The Prefab in Jessie Street

From the moment I arrived in a packed Prefab Hall, standing room only, and found the last seat thanks to a friend signalling to me, I was in an informal atmosphere of enjoyment. Well over 150 people were present, a good 40 or so of whom were standing round the walls. The seating was arranged on three sides, the choir performing from the other side. This hollow square arrangement made for good sight lines... read more

Messiah with the NZSO – age cannot wither, nor custom stale….

By , 12/12/2015

NZSO boss Chris Blake understandably waxed lyrical in a welcoming programme note over the orchestra's espousal of a fourth consecutive year's presentation of Messiah, this time round in the expert directorial hands of renowned Baroque exponent Nicholas McGegan.

In terms of audience response, the near sold-out house spoke for itself - and while Messiah seems to draw people in like no other, the presence of McGegan, star soprano... read more

Fine a cappella singing from Supertonic Choir and Tawa College Blue Notes

Once again, Supertonic performed to a virtually full venue – this time, at the Portrait Gallery on the waterfront. I concluded that about 140 people were present. As on the previous occasion, in June, the audience comprised people I don’t see at other concerts; I knew no-one in the audience. I hope that their enjoyment of this concert will enthuse them to attend other choral concerts. I have been to... read more

Palliser Viols and Pepe Becker enjoyed at St Andrew’s lunchtime concert

I find that I reviewed Palliser Viols at St. Andrew’s as recently as September. However, although some of the composers were the same, the music was not duplicated, and we had this time the addition of a singer, not named in the programme. This time the programme was not clearly set out, so it was not always easy to tell which piece we were on. The interesting programme notes did... read more

Final concert in marathon Bach organ project at Cathedral of Saint Paul

Yet another varied programme in the Bach Project, for this final concert in the year-long project. This time, being at a more user-friendly hour than most of the performances have been, there was a good-sized audience. There was an Advent and Christmas theme running through the choice of chorale preludes. Opening with a chorale prelude that was not familiar to me, though on a very familiar chorale: ‘Wachet auf, ruft... read more

A Child’s Christmas a world and time away at Circa Theatre

By , 01/12/2015

I thought I knew Dylan Thomas's enchanting youthful evocation "A Child's Christmas in Wales" pretty well, in the wake of numerous encounters with the work over the years. As each Christmas approached I would read the work to the class of children that were in my charge as a teacher,  a kind of ritual that extended over more years than I care to remember. And every now... read more

Bach Choir hits the Christmas Spot

By , 28/11/2015

Into the beautifully-appointed spaces of St.Peter-on-Willis's Church came the Bach Choir, with conductor Peter de Blois and organist Douglas Mews, to perform an inventive and intriguing selection of Christmas music.

Audience participation was definitely on the agenda - at the top of the list of items, and styled as an "audience carol" no less, was "O come, all ye faithful" - which contributed greatly to the concert's overall... read more

Rites of Spring – from the sublime to “cor blimey” in all respects

  Spring was celebrated before a nearly full Michael Fowler Centre on Friday.  Though the very popular Vaughan Williams work and the famous Stravinsky ballet score were composed within a short space of time of each other, their musical languages were vastly different, yet they both in their own ways celebrated spring, one in the English countryside, the other in a primitive Russian past.  Thus the programme was rather a... read more

War’s impact on the women: Nota Bene sings, Gaylene Preston reads memories

By , 14/11/2015
I’m wondering if others have noticed that quite a lot of musical and other attention is being paid to a war that took place a hundred years ago on the other side of the world; perhaps not: I’m just unusually perceptive. It was a sad mess, an indictment on all the states that became involved, because based on nationalist bigotry, pride and bluster, and in our own case on empty... read more

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