Supported by generous help from the Adam Foundation

Festival Singers under Berkahn explore baroque byways, a romantic Stabat Mater and a modern, jazz cantata

By , April 6, 2014
The concert was advertised as performing two works: a Stabat Mater by minor German composer, Josef Rheinberger, contemporary of Brahms and Bruch, and The Third Day by the conductor. The works that accompanied the Stabat Mater in the first half were of a similar kind: organ and vocal pieces by Buxtehude, Bach, Lachner, and religious songs by John Ireland and Berkahn. Lachner’s name probably rings faint bells as Franz was one... read more

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

By , March 21, 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 , March 19, 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

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

By , March 13, 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

Gunter Herbig and his Brazilian-German guitar at St Andrew’s lunchtime recital

By , March 5, 2014
Gunther Herbig has been a distinguished figure in Wellington music for some years and was for a time head of classical guitar at the New Zealand School of Music; he remains in Wellington though now teaching at Auckland University. His background – born in Brazil and growing up in Portugal and Germany – gives him a unique background as a musician and guitarist, obviously in both linguistic and musical... read more

Festival opera Ainadamar semi-staged but powerful, strongly cast and magnificently performed

By , March 2, 2014
In spite of the many attempts by composers of the present day to use contemporary issues and events as subjects for opera, few have survived more than an opening season of performances.  For by determining to display a command of the concepts and fashions that musical academia has developed and made de rigueur for a composer who wants to be taken seriously by his peers,  most have failed to... read more

The year’s centenary profoundly marked with a Requiem for the Fallen: O’Sullivan and Harris

By , February 28, 2014
One of the major events in any genre in this year’s festival, this concert, involving choir, string quartet and other soloists, deserved the full house that it attracted, as well as the immediate, standing ovation at the end. The key element of course was the cantata (shall we call it, instead of a liturgical work?) that occupied the last part of the concert. The work of Vincent O’Sullivan and Ross... read more

Baroque guitarist Hopkinson Smith reveals a little known era of Spanish music in exquisite recital

By , February 24, 2014
This was Hopkinson Smith’s second performance in Wellington; the previous day he had played at Pataka, the museum and cultural centre in Porirua. I gather there was a full house, and a highly appreciative one. His rather memorable name has been around for many decades: I confess to thinking he was English (he was born in New York, was educated at Harvard, and long resident in Switzerland) and so there were... read more

Beethoven blazes to the front of the NZSO’s ‘Five by Five’ symphony series

By , February 24, 2014
Day One of the five concerts devoted to the great fifth symphonies by five great composers opened with a performance that promised a splendidly successful enterprise across the span of the Festival. It was hard to guess the kind of audience that might buy tickets for a concert at a different time and in a different format from usual. However, the auditorium was reasonably well filled with an audience that... read more

Lively opera debut from an ambitious new Hawke’s Bay company

By , February 18, 2014
Through the 1990s I went to most of the operas staged by Hawkes Bay Opera in the Hastings (later renamed Hawkes Bay) Opera House. The company rather declined from the early 2000s, but there has been some recovery since the return to Napier of Anna Pierard and her husband Jose Aparicio, who have been involved, Jose as artistic director and both Anna and Madeleine as principals with recent productions... read more

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