Supported by generous help from the Adam Foundation

Inspiring lunchtime performances from NZSM string players

By , October 22, 2014
It was nothing short of astonishing to hear the level of musicianship and accomplishment on their instruments that these students demonstrated. As an undergraduate concert it was quite staggering. The concert opened with the cello of Caitlin Morris, playing a section from Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No.1, Op.33. Hers was dynamic and exciting playing. The tempo was quite fast, despite the ‘non troppo’marking of the opening. It was a little too... read more

Music in evocative spaces – Diedre Irons at Wellington Cathedral

By , October 17, 2014
"Piano music in a vast space" read the heading on the programme sheet which we were given at the concert - and it certainly was that! In fact, I had wondered beforehand regarding the efficacy of performing a piano recital at all in such an environment, and certainly in respect of some of the repertoire - the "Appassionata?…..how on earth?….all those notes!…… As well, I remembered reading about some wag... read more

Borodin Quartet in Wellington – Old-World elegance, universal beauty

By , October 16, 2014
Mention the name "Borodin Quartet" and the average classical music-lover's eyes will either take on a dreamy, far-away look as if contemplating whole histories of music-making in every prestigious place imaginable, or else flash with sudden excitement at the prospect of encountering this world-renowned group's playing. Last week in Wellington, chamber-music enthusiasts had the chance to indulge in either or both reactions, as the Borodins (their 2014 lineup of... read more

Alexa Thomson – possibility and accomplishment on the viola

By , October 15, 2014
 This concert was an Honours music degree recital for Alexa Thomson, and St.Andrew’s church was a most suitable venue for this scale of performance. The Brahms Sonata is, of course, one of the lynchpins of the violist’s repertoire, and it was a good vehicle for Alexa’s artistic phrasing and warmth of tone which was entirely free of the edgy, nasal quality that can often detract from the upper register... read more

Illuminating the Bard – sonnets for a 450th birthday

By , October 12, 2014
This performance was a celebration of Shakespeare’s sonnets on the 450th anniversary of his birth. By happy chance the two actors were in New Zealand during the 50th anniversary celebrations of Wellington’s Cathedral of St. Paul, and as part of those, they had devised a programme to “perform from Shakespeare’s sonnets and other works with sidelights on his mysterious life, some original pronunciation and a few surprises”. There were... read more

NZ Opera’s “Don Giovanni” in Wellington enthralling

By , October 11, 2014
  Much has been written about what is probably the world’s most continuously successful opera: Mozart’s Don Giovanni. That it continues to draw in the crowds despite the misgivings of various ‘experts’ over the years is tribute not only to the variety and virtuosity of the music, but also to the characterisation in Lorenzo da Ponte’s sometimes denigrated libretto. This opera is notable for many things; the complexity of the vocal writing... read more

Orchestral spectaculars from the NZSO – and a 2015 sneak-preview

By , October 10, 2014
I thought it happy and appropriate that the second half of the NZSO "Bold Worlds" Wellington concert on Friday of last week was prefaced by several of the principal players telling us something about the 2015 orchestral season (details of which had just been released), and specifically what each of them was particularly looking forward to taking part in. So we were able to hear concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen telling us... read more

Soloists add distinction to NZSM Orchestra concert

By , October 2, 2014
In the wake of a couple of crackingly good recent concerts given by the NZSM Orchestra and its intrepid conductor, Kenneth Young, I found myself eagerly looking forward to this particular evening's presentation. The programme followed the orchestra's policy of mixing the familiar (Brahms, Tchaikovsky) with the less-frequently performed (Barber, Bartok), the repertoire obviously designed to present the student musicians with a wide range of technical and stylistic challenges For... read more

Saxophone feast from the New Zealand School of Music

By , September 30, 2014
The Bach aria which opened this concert must be one of the most sublime vocal duos ever written, and it has been sung with breathtaking beauty by all the great oratorio artists. Hence it has to be a very demanding challenge to achieve a successful transcription for saxophones. The power of the original is such that I found it impossible to banish that version from my mind, and hear... read more

Youth and experience: organ-playing at St John’s, Willis St.

By , September 28, 2014
It was interesting to be treated to a recital by two female organists, one a young student, the other long-experienced and highly expert.  However, the latter is currently a student too, working towards a doctorate (Doctor of Musical Arts) at Victoria University. In St. John’s Church, with its fine wooden architecture, both external and internal, sits a splendid organ which needs some money spent on it to keep it in... read more

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