Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gems from the tutors at the Aroha String Quartet’s music academy

By , 10/08/2016
The Aroha String Quartet is more than ten years old and has, through two or three personnel changes, become an important feature in Wellington’s musical scene. They take their position seriously, now contributing to the teaching, coaching and support of young (and adult, non-professional) musicians. The Academy takes place at St Andrew’s between 9 and 14 August, with two public concerts on Sunday the 14th. The coaching is done by... read more

Piano quartets from Diedre Irons and NZSO string principals

By , 07/08/2016
There was little doubt that a piano quartet comprising three of the principals in the NZSO plus one of the most admired New Zealand pianists would produce a delightful concert. And the composers to be played were further assurance of a couple of rewarding hours. That expectation could withstand the unknown quantity of the first piece, by Schubert. Written aged 19 and therefore, in Schubert’s case, the work of a... read more

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