Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Sweeney Todd – powerful and disturbing theatre at St.James’, Wellington

By , 30/09/2016
Stuart Maunder, New Zealand Opera's chief, and the director of the company's current production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd", showing at Wellington's St.James Theatre, called the show in a welcome message written in the programme "a meaty night out at the opera". I admit I took fright for an instant, irrespective of my largely carnivorous food preferences history. It was just that I didn't really fancy watching a series... read more

Mature performances by undergraduate NZSM guitar students at St Andrew’s

By , 28/09/2016
This student recital was a showcase for an honours student (Solomon) set beside four first and second year students. The test for the audience might have been to have asked them to identify the levels of accomplishment of each, without knowing their place in the academic hierarchy. Without denigrating the splendid playing of Solomon, I was often surprised at both the skill and the interpretive insights displayed by the... read more

High drama, pastoral beauty and symphonic grandeur from the WCO with Michael Vinten

By , 25/09/2016
It’s always fascinating to encounter the efforts of musicians who aren’t full-time professional players literally throwing themselves wholeheartedly at music that’s challenging and difficult, however well-known it might seem. I can claim to having had some limited but nevertheless exhilarating experience as such a player in an amateur orchestra, in another life! – what a pleasure it was, that of being able to listen “from the inside” to various... read more

Annual Wellington Aria Contest final showcases some fine talent

By , 18/09/2016
This year eighteen singers entered for the annual aria contest (it used to be the Hutt Valley Aria, when there was also a Wellington-based contest, run by the Wellington Competitions Society which died in the 1970s). Some names were more familiar to me than others. I had only recalled Laura Loach in a smaller role in last year’s Gondoliers from Wellington G&S Light Opera, but couldn’t recall her voice. Her... read more

Moments in Time – Diedre Irons’ tribute to Judith Clark

By , 18/09/2016
It’s sometimes difficult to imagine Diedre Irons as ever having had another “life” as a person and performing musician, so very much has she become part and parcel of this country’s musical fabric, especially of late in the Wellington region. Now in retirement from her position as Head of Piano Studies at Studies at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, a position she held from 2003 to 2012... read more

Three wonderful concerts on the day for Mozart and Brahms string quintets

By , 17/09/2016
A series of concerts, like this on Saturday, probably hasn’t been heard in Wellington since 1988 when the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts (as it was originally called) presented members of the Australia Ensemble (six of them), playing all six (not just the four we hear this weekend) of Mozart’s string quintets, plus Brahms’s two string sextets and his string quintet Op 111. It was sponsored by... read more

Quintessence on show via youth and experience at Michael Fowler Centre

By , 17/09/2016
What a lovely idea,  arranging a day of performances of quintets for strings, and then giving the arrangement the name “quintessence” – and I must confess to not previously knowing the origin of the term in classical and medieval philosophy, of the “fifth” element or essence, a substance said to comprise the makeup of the celestial bodies, no less! In relation to Chamber Music New Zealand’s event, Quintessence was... read more

NZ Trio with Xia Jing – violin, ‘cello, piano and guzheng

By , 16/09/2016

This concert was part of Victoria University Confucious Institute’s China/New Zealand Musical Exchange programme, and sponsored jointly by the Confucious Institute and the China Cultural Centre in New Zealand, with support from both the Asia New Zealand Foundation and Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.

A special feature of the concert was the presence of Xia Jing, one of the foremost exponents of the guzhengread more

Intriguing and largely successful Villani Piano Quartet recital at Lower Hutt

By , 12/09/2016
Last Saturday’s subscription concert by Orchestra Wellington explored connections between Mahler, his wife, Alma, the unfinished tenth symphony, Alma’s lover of the time, the famous architect Walter Gropius, their daughter, Manon, born after Mahler’s death, and Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto written in memory of her death aged 18 (a bit sad that Berg's compulsion to memorialise Manon's death probably stopped him from completing Lulu). A further connection was that... read more

Admirably staged and sung opera and music theatre excerpts from the school of music

By , 11/09/2016
The school of music’s once annual opera productions have in recent years fallen back to biennial events. In the between years, students create a series of scenes from opera, against a background of elementary sets and a few props that can, with a bit of imagination, be used in various settings. This production employed around sixteen singers, though the photo gallery in the printed programme contained 23 faces which included... read more

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