Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Memorable, varied programme from singers and instrumentaists of Note Bene

Nota Bene chamber choir appeared to be a little larger than it has sometimes been, but not all singers sang in all items.  Once again it grabbed the attention and held it, with a varied programme incorporating diverse instruments as well as the voices, sometimes women’s only. Again, Peter Walls was guest conductor, and his vigorous yet sensitive conducting bore out a comment in his biography in the printed programme... read more

NZSO with Farr’s first piano concerto plus Respighi celebrating Rome

The huge Respighi tone poems in this concert were works that exhibited the fullest orchestral resources of the NZSO, expanding it beyond 100 with guest players, not to mention the further addition of the Wellington Brass Band for the finale of the Pines of Rome.  The opening Roman Festivals suite immediately opened the doors to Respighi’s wonderfully inventive orchestration, which here covers the whole gamut of colourful and dynamic... read more

Aspects of conflict in Brio’s “Peace and War” at St.Andrew’s

By , 26/03/2014
"Something for everybody who remembers the war" might have been a way of describing much of this presentation, with items ranging in emotion from the downright sentimentality of popular song to the unspeakable horrors of nuclear conflagration. As well, there were pieces with less specific associations, ranging from folk-ballads to finely-wrought meditations on life and death. Rather like everyday life, a bit of a hotch-potch – though in the... read more

Junghwa Lee – pianistic brilliance and recreative ferment at the NZSM

By , 26/03/2014
This was one of those concerts whose first item (quite apart from other, later revelations) I didn't really see coming - true, I was intrigued at the thought of hearing how the composer of orchestral classics such as Espana and Marche Joyeuse would acquit himself in the realm of keyboard music, though I wasn't expecting much beyond what the title suggested - "picturesque pieces" was my schoolboy French translation... read more

Rich opportunities for NZSM Orchestra’s youthful freshness, commitment, poetry and dynamism

This interesting and varied programme opened with Mendelssohn’s incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Kenneth Young set a whacking pace for the Overture but the players rose confidently to the challenge with exemplary clarity in the demanding high speed pianissimo passagework, excellent intonation, and effective balance within the orchestral forces. The phrasing and dynamics of the more poetic sections were thoughtful and musical throughout, as were those of... read more

One-man Slovak cello ensemble featuring voice and rhythm at NZSM

By , 21/03/2014
Cellist Jozef Lupták came to New Zealand primarily, I suppose, to play Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra; I see he also gave concerts at Rangiora, Dunedin, Rotorua. He was also enticed to visit the New Zealand School of Music to give a masterclass on Thursday and a short recital on Friday 21 March. His recital started and ended with excerpts from Bach’s cello suites: first, no 3... read more

Jonathan Berkahn and friends celebrate St Patrick’s Day + 2 with charm and wit

By , 19/03/2014
It was only a month earlier that Jonathan Berkahn was at St Andrew’s playing both the church’s organs, and one is used to his appearing more discreetly, accompanying choirs and small ensembles. Here, Jonathan was more centre stage, wielding his piano accordion, though he was also at the piano keyboard sometimes, stage left, and handling a recorder. As well as playing, he demonstrated a talent as compere and musicologist as... read more

Concert of rare 17th century instruments at New Zealand School of Music

Consisting entirely of English music from the seventeenth century, the concert brought unfamiliar sounds and compositions to light.  Sarah Mead is a visiting professor from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, while the other performers are well-known in Wellington for their advocacy and performance of early music. Despite a programme note about the lyra viol and a brief explanation from Sarah Mead, I was left confused about this instrument, in view of... read more

Triumphant finish to the NZSO’s ‘Five by Five’ lunchtime venture

By , 13/03/2014
To programme some of the weightiest pieces of orchestral music at lunchtime might have seemed strange behaviour. Were the festival’s and the orchestra’s managements not alert to the usual view that noon-time music should be light and easy? This last of the Five by Five symphonies played at lunchtime concerts by the NZSO attracted a smaller audience than the other two I heard; I think that might be because Shostakovich... read more

Distinguish Strike and Psathas from the hoi poloi of noise makers of the gig world

Strike is regarded as the country’s premier percussion ensemble and the performance was promoted in the Festival programme as “Inspired by ancient and modern rhythms – from tribal beats to dubstep – Between Zero and One was written for Strike by internationally renowned New Zealand composer John Psathas…….. Intimate moments will draw you in – the epic finale will blow your mind.” The programme comprised a series of items for... read more

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