Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Paekakariki’s Mulled Wine concert series opens in the rich classical heartland

By , 05/03/2017
I missed the first of Paekakriki’s Mulled Wine concerts in January, organised by Mary Gow, featuring ‘Ukes of Wellington’ along with wine and beer at the bar; all three I could well have enjoyed. However, I caught the first serious engagement, involving three leading Wellington musicians none of whom were born in New Zealand but who one hopes will not change their minds in the light of political or other... read more

Hungarian pianist Dénes Varjon at Waikanae with enterprising programme, rich in Bartók

By , 19/02/2017
The first concert in the nine-concert Waikanae chamber music series neatly filled a hole in my piano recital experiences that the same programme would have provided in Nelson if I’d been there the previous Sunday. Varjon was one of this year’s stars at the biennial Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson (see my review date-lined 11 February). He was hot news there and even though I heard him in various... read more

Days Bay Opera’s twelfth production handles Eugene Onegin with youthful energy and perceptivity

By , 15/02/2017
Days Bay Opera continues its eclectic repertory policies, that have ranged from the mid 16th century to the 20th. For this, it was back to the garden, after the indoors performance of Theodora, on a fine but somewhat cool evening. What may well have been a worry was a summer that is hardly worthy of the name, and further performances of both pieces on the following days may not have... read more

Nelson Chamber Music festival again New Zealand’s biennial musical highlight

By , 10/02/2017
My visit this year to the Nelson Chamber Music Festival was shorter than in previous years, arriving late afternoon on the Tuesday and departing midday Saturday. The highlights from abroad were the presence of Hungarian pianist Dénes Varjon, the Australian tenor, Andrew Goodwin (singing Schumann’s Dichterliebe), the Goldner Quartet and cellist Matthew Barley. The essence of the festival rests with the New Zealand String Quartet, which founded and sustained the festival... read more

Melbourne’s Ring cycle revival a spectacular triumph

By , 16/12/2016
Introduction I went to the third run of the Ring in Melbourne, in December. At its first incarnation in 2013, I had rather set it aside, partly because the ticket prices were pretty steep – well over $1000 for the four – and something in me said that, as I have seen the entire cycle five times over the years, in various places including Bayreuth, I doubted whether Opera Australia... read more

Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera triumphs in Handel’s Theodora

By , 06/12/2016
I’m glad that last year I broke the ice with Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera, for my delightful experience with Grétry’s L’amant jaloux made me more than ready for another. The title Theodora did rang a bell: my first reaction was that it was an oratorio, as I was fairly sure that I’d recognise the names at least of most of Handel's operas that have been much performed. Furthermore, it was in... read more

Flute and piano duo feature composers languishing in the shadows of the greats

By , 30/11/2016
Here were two names that were slightly familiar to me but which I couldn’t really offer biographical information about. Both studied in Wellington: Nick at the Conservatorium of Music at Massey University, Christy at Victoria University. Palmerston North has featured in the lives of both, but the birth-place of neither was disclosed. They are married and have quite a range of performance history both together and separately. It was a... read more

Politically coloured vocal contest settles the score between baritones and bass-baritones

By , 16/11/2016
Both Rosemary Collier and I found ourselves at what turned out to be an unexpectedly amusing recital. We were both held up by late trains and non-functioning lifts and so missed whatever introductory remarks might have illuminated the nature of the ‘contest’. So disadvantaged, we decided to pool our impressions in the hope of making some sense of the unusual scenario that was being enacted. However, the four biographical notes gave... read more

Highly diverting Orpheus Choir mixes seasonal Haydn with animals and cloudbursts

By , 12/11/2016
What is detailed above, as well as a statement that further details would be announced, is the information about this concert we had received and had filed in our Coming Events, but no ‘further details’ arrived: no soloists named, no organist or piano accompanist; not even the name of the conductor, though one knew that. As we entered, we were handed a folded A4 page with the greeting – “just... read more

Impressive Kristallnacht commemoration in concert by Holocaust Centre and NZ School of Music

By , 09/11/2016
Two days short of the marking of the World War I armistice, on 11 November 1918, another event took place in the country that had accepted an armistice, but not defeat, and whose sense of humiliation found expression 15 years later with the take-over of Germany by Hitler and the Nazis. Evidence of a policy of violence against the Jews arose within days of the Nazis taking power in 1933, and... read more

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