Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Charming recital of French and English songs by Rhona Fraser and Richard Mapp at Lower Hutt

By , 31/08/2016
Rhona Fraser relaxed after the strenuous weeks of management and production of her opera at Days Bay over the weekend (Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi) by tackling a ¾ hour recital of varied and engaging songs in the generous and kind acoustic of St Mark's church, Lower Hutt. Though the opera had not, this time, involved her in a singing role, this recital gave us some reassurance that her... read more

Maaike Christie-Beekman with Rachel Thomson in admirable song recital

A recital entirely of song-cycles is perhaps a little unusual, but it made for a very satisfying concert.  Maaike Christie-Beekman introduced each in a lively and informative way, giving a summary of the words of each song.  Even though she was not using a microphone, most of what she said could be heard clearly. The Debussy cycle used poems by Pierre Louÿs, which the latter claimed were translations of the... read more

Magical I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Bellini) the tenth production by Rhona Fraser’s Opera in Days Bay

By , 27/08/2016
This production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, like the productions of several of the operas done by Rhona Fraser’s Days Bay company, was probably the New Zealand premiere. Though there may have been performances by minor opera groups over recent years, I’m sure no recent professional production would have escaped me. (but see more in the Appendix below) One of the problems with this assumed Shakespeare-modelled piece has been... read more

‘Singers to listen for’: “A long way to hear singing as good as this”

Advertised on RNZ Concert like any other concert, it was in fact not at all.  It was a fundraiser for Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (for cancer research) and the Kiri te Kanawa Foundation.  A similar event had been held last year.  The early part of the evening was taken up with chat, drinks and canapés, before the music started at 7.15pm. Rodney Macann was a genial and knowledgeable MC, and... read more

Polished guitar music from Poland, New Zealand and Japan from St Andrews

Jane Curry introduced this recital by making generous remarks about the dedication and hard work by the year-round organisers of these important lunchtime concerts, Marjan van Waardenberg and the church’s administrator, David Medland. Having a couple of highly competent guitarists performing means relaxing, knowing that even complex music will be reproduced faithfully, sensitively and accurately.  In this case, the programme consisted of innovative, recent compositions. The first, Sakura No Hana Variations... read more

Don Giovanni scores impressively in performance by Eternity Opera’s second cast

By , 24/08/2016
When I arrived at the theatre at 7pm, I was surprised (and delighted) to find a box office queue out to the street. Though it proved to be largely because there was only one person handling both sales and the collection of already purchased tickets, it did show that the production had attracted high interest, and indeed by 7.30, there was scarcely an empty seat in the house. This was... read more

Young Korean piano trio at Waikanae with generally colourful, joyous music

It was disappointing to see a much smaller audience than has been present at the other concerts of the Waikanae Music Society that I have attended this year.  Was it the beautiful calm and sunny weather that kept people away?  This was the tenth of ten concerts the Trinity Trio has given around the country for Chamber Music New Zealand. In addition to excellent programme notes, brief spoken introductions to... read more

Michael Houstoun’s tribute to Judith Clark – a feast of Bach

By , 21/08/2016

A brief preamble: Judith Clark (1931-2014) was a much-respected piano pedagogue and former Head of Piano Studies at Victoria University’s School of Music in Wellington. Her years of prominence in this latter role were before my time in the capital, but I certainly remember her in retirement as an abiding presence at many a concert and recital, having the air of a “grand dame” whose attendance at whatever... read more

Orchestra Wellington, Orpheus Choir, clarinet in brilliant Mozartian form

By , 20/08/2016
To put together programmes celebrating periods in a composer’s life has been made pretty easy by the conscientious compilers of catalogues, either by musicologists or by the composers themselves. Some have been catalogued in more sophisticated ways, by genre of composition which leads to an elaborate system like that of Haydn by Hoboken (not the suburb of Antwerp).  But it’s not hard to list the ‘last words’ of Mozart There’s... read more

The Don rides out again – Eternity Opera’s “other” Don Giovanni

By , 20/08/2016
What a delight to be able to enjoy, within the space of a few days, a second, almost entirely different cast performing the same operatic production! Eternity Opera's Don Giovanni had opened on the previous Saturday (reviewed by Middle C, below) and this was the single chance for the "understudy cast" members to demonstrate what they could do in public - with the exception of the Zerlina, Emily Mwila... read more

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