Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Entertaining Christmas concert from the Northern Chorale

It was a new take on Christmas music to present a selection of songs that were traditionally sung by carollers in their neighbourhoods, expecting to be rewarded with food and drink.  Monika Smith’s brief, entertaining introductions to the songs made it clear that it was often the reward that was the focus, rather than the music. The concert opened with a traditional carol, ‘Resonet in laudibus’ sung as a processional ... read more

Tudor Consort with marvellous music: Motets by Bach and settings of the texts by others

The programme revolved around three of Bach’s motets: Singet dem Herrn, Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden, and the incomparable Jesu, meine Freude.  The other works were settings of the same or related texts by other composers, some with a conscious nod to Bach. One notable characteristic of the superb Tudor Consort is the involvement of the singers in what they are presenting.  This is shown by accuracy, attention to detail... read more

Large audience hear unfamiliar Christmas music in enthusiastic performance by Festival Singers

This festive concert programme drew a large audience to the Island Bay Presbyterian Church, and it was apparent from the first bar that the choristers hugely enjoyed singing it. The opening Gloria by the choir’s director Jonathan Berkahn immediately set the scene with its vigorous, bouncy rhythms and easy harmonies, cleverly offset by a central section of more stately and peaceful mood. The following three items formed a most... read more

Circa Theatre’s “Dead Tragic” a life-enhancing experience

By , 22/11/2014
That old wizard of stage and screen, Noel Coward, was right when he famously quipped, "….how extraordinarily POTENT cheap music is……" - that is, if the response of the "half-century-onwards" hearts that were pumping and pulsating throughout Circa Theatre's startlingly in-your-face "Dead Tragic" collection of truly-and-tragically-dreadful 1970s songs was anything to go by. In fact that opening sentence gives you an idea of some of the convolutions of the lyrics... read more

A divided NZSO with a breathtaking cellist in a sparkling touring programme for the South Island

From the first downbeat of Mozart's 'Paris' Symphony, Australian conductor Ben Northey galvanised the orchestra into a sparkling and vivacious performance, and set the tone for an authoritative, yet electrifying evening’s music making. His engagement with the players was almost tangible, epitomised in the initial Allegro assai where he drew out real magic from the contrabasses, in episodes that can often pass almost unnoticed. In the following Andante he fashioned... read more

Tingling strings at Futuna – Dean Major and Robert Ibell

By , 16/11/2014
Josef Haydn, whom previous generations knew as "Papa", was one of music's great humorists. Of course, everybody knows the slow movement of the "Surprise" Symphony with its sudden fortissimo chord right at the end of a piano phrase - but most of his jokes are far more subtle. They're more in the realms of the "musically unexpected" than in the "things-that-go-bump-in-the-night" kind of way - Haydn treats his listeners... read more

Orchestra Wellington ends its year in blaze of irreverent glory

By , 15/11/2014
This last of Orchestra Wellington’s most successful 2014 subscription series not only delivered the last of the Haydn’s Paris symphonies, but brought together Wellington’s other major, locally-specific musical organization: the Orpheus Choir, to perform what is one of the most popular, large-scale compositions. Also called for in Carmina Burana is a children’s choir and Christine Argyle led Wellington Young Voices to contribute that element. In the first half, Haydn’s No... read more

Diverting and wide-ranging concert from the SMP Ensemble

By , 14/11/2014
The SMP Ensemble’s programmes, often devoted to experimental, New Zealand music, are not always particularly easy for the average classical music lover to enjoy. This one, advertising Schoenberg’s best-loved piece, Verklärte Nacht, guaranteed pleasure. But word of it had obviously not got out as the audience was sadly small. The first half did include a couple of, shall we say, unusual pieces, but it began and ended with harp player... read more

Third of the Cathedral’s recitals for the new Steinway, from Jian Liu

Compared with the two earlier recitals in this series, this one attracted a small attendance only.  Perhaps it is getting too late in the year (i.e. close to Christmas) for people to come to a Friday early-evening recital. It was appropriate to hear Byrd played in the Cathedral, although a little strange to hear it on the piano.  From My Ladye Nevells Booke that consisted of 42 pieces for keyboard... read more

Polished and delightful lunchtime with winds at St Andrew’s

By , 12/11/2014
To return from a nearly two-month trip in Europe to a Wellington rich with such plentiful and excellent live music has been a considerable consolation. Not that I ever underestimated the phenomenon of a fairly small city with such a wealth of practising musicians, plus their indispensable facilitating by enterprising impresarios and concert managers such as St Andrew’s enjoys. In the Paris weeklies Officiel des spectacles or Pariscope, in a... read more

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