Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Orchestra Wellington’s fifth concert excels with last works of Berlioz, Bartok and Tchaikovsky (almost)

By , 15/10/2016
This was the once-a-year event for the young musicians involved with the Hutt Valley Arohanui Strings, the project inspired by the famous Venezuelan institution, El Sistema. They filed in after some of Orchestra Wellington’s players had taken their seats: the more advanced ones taking seats alongside a professional player as mentor; the beginners spread across the front of the stage – some of them looked aged about four. They... read more

Revelatory chamber music experiences from London Conchord Ensemble

By , 13/10/2016
An overseas ensemble of eight distinguished players is a rare event for Chamber Music New Zealand, even more so when most are principal players in leading British orchestras, chamber groups or music academies; an ensemble as various in backgrounds and careers as the music they played. They never all played together, apart from the encore, party pieces: bits of Brahms’s Hungarian dances. Other than at the concerts in the four... read more

Streeton Trio, at Waikanae, offers persuasive, unfamiliar music but lacked a masterpiece

By , 09/10/2016
The Streeton Piano Trio was named for the important Australian painter Arthur Streeton, though I don’t know whether there was any reason for making the connection with the visual arts. The trio has twice toured New Zealand before, in 2012 and 2013, when they made a very good impression; Middle C reviewed their concerts at Waikanae. Mozart dropped for Debussy Their advertised programme had begun with Mozart’s early trio in G... read more

America: NZSO performances of brilliant new violin concerto plus Dvořák in New York and Reich in minimalist heaven

By , 08/10/2016
Once upon a time to have scheduled the New World Symphony would have guaranteed a pretty full house in spite of its being accompanied by unfamiliar music. But sometimes I think that as the years pass, the general public is becoming, not more open and adventurous, and simply ‘well-informed’ in the arts, and music too, but less in all those spheres. And there are various reasons: slavery to the flat... read more

Adventures in great music both well-known and unknown, marks strong revival by Cantoris

By , 02/10/2016
In many ways, an appealing way to design a programme: two of Mozart’s best-loved choral works and one obscure, but as it emerged, beautiful piece by an almost totally unknown composer. Emanuele d’Astorga was born in Sicily in 1680, in perhaps the most fruitful and brilliant decade in the whole history of western classical music – the decade of Vivaldi, Telemann, Rameau, Bach, Handel, Biber, Geminiani, Pachelbel, Domenico Scarlatti... read more

Challenging and enterprising concert “Freedom and Captivity” and the like, from Nota Bene

By , 01/10/2016
This concert was entitled Freedom and Captivity, reflecting, in music and words, on the experience and problems faced in wars, in colonisation, in racism and other forms of oppression. A good example of what might still be to some, an improper mixing of art and politics (recall sport and politics a generation ago). It is a worthy and fruitful topic which has inspired a lot of music and other arts... 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

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

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

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

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