Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Ordinary heroism – four women bare their lives in Circa Theatre’s new Caryl Churchill play “Escaped Alone”

By , 14/03/2017
Back in days of yore, I remember taking part in a one-act play written by Irishman Brian Friel, called "Lovers, Winners", a scenario involving two actors and two narrators. The former were the eponymous "Lovers", who enacted a single day's events, their interchanges filled with hopes and plans for their future, while the two narrators (I was one) took turns to counterpoint the stage action with a matter-of-fact commentary... read more

NZ Opera’s Mikado contentious but “not to be missed”

By , 25/02/2017
When W.S.Gilbert's ornamental Japanese sword fell off the wall of his study while he was turning over in his mind ideas for his latest operatic collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, The Mikado was born - or so all the G&S history books tell us. In fact, there happened to be a vogue for japonaiserie in England at the time Mikado first hit the stage, instigated some years before by... read more

Days Bay Opera does it again with Handel’s “Theodora”

By , 11/02/2017
One of the pleasures of reviewing for me is fronting up to performances of music which I simply don’t know, and subsequently asking myself (sometimes in tones of amazement and disbelief) why it is I’ve never encountered this or that work before, finding it so beautiful / profound / thrilling /whatever! Thus it was with this often compelling production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora, a work the composer wrote towards... read more

Circa rumbles and dances with Roger Hall’s Jack and the Beanstalk

By , 22/11/2016
Pantomime is surely one of the most life-enhancing experiences theatre can offer, and Circa Theatre’s current Jack and the Beanstalk production ticks all the boxes that matter in the genre – it wasn’t long after the show’s beginning before the harshest, most vocal critics in the audience were soon caught up in it all, making manifest their involvement in the tale’s twists and turns, to the added delight, I... read more

Camerata – graceful and high-spirited music-making at St.Peter’s Church, Willis St.

By , 11/11/2016
Camerata violinist Liz Pritchett opened proceedings by welcoming us to St.Peter’s Church, introducing the ensemble’s leader Anne Loeser and the rest of the Camerata players, and bidding us enjoy the music we were about to hear.  First up was something of a concert rarity, a Serenade by the French composer Gabriel Pierné, whose music I’d seldom heard, apart from a Piano Concerto which I’d encountered in a “Romantic Piano... read more

Tudor Consort’s 30th Anniversary Concert a selection of treasures

By , 05/11/2016
This concert marked something of a return to the “helm” for the Tudor Consort’s Music Director, Michael Stewart, who’s been working behind the scenes for most of the past year, preparing and pre-rehearsing the ensemble for its concerts with no fewer than three guest conductors. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the pre-concert talk, which perhaps might have explained more about the “vive la difference” choices for this evening’s... read more

Galvanic lunch hour with the Rangapu Duo at St.Andrew’s

By , 26/10/2016
The names of both performers in this lunchtime concert at St.Andrew’s were new to me, each of them being Hamilton-based musicians, though I ought to have remembered that Liam Wooding was a prizewinner at Christchurch in 2015 at the National Concerto Competition. His duo partner, Noelle Dannenbring, for her part won the University of Waikato Concerto Competition earlier this year. Currently, both are studying at the University under the... read more

Max Reger – The Romantic Bach? – splendid advocacy from Bruce Cash

By , 14/10/2016
This was the second of three lecture/recitals on the life and works of German composer Max Reger (1873-1916) by organist and choral conductor Bruce Cash. On the strength of this experience with the music of a relatively neglected composer, I found myself wishing I'd gone to the first of Cash's presentations earlier this year, and will certainly go to the third one, scheduled for March 2017. Fashions have a disconcerting... read more

Wellington Youth Orchestra and Simon Brew – playing for keeps

By , 11/10/2016
From the first solo ‘cello note of the Wellington Youth Orchestra’s performance of the “William Tell” Overture, I was spellbound – I’d never heard that opening ascending phrase speak more eloquently and poetically. Naturally, I couldn’t straight-away rustle about in my seat turning my programme’s pages to discover who the ‘cellist was - which was good, because my attention wasn’t then diverted from the playing of the other individual... read more

Passage of the Soul – commemorative and reflective beauty at Wellington Cathedral

By , 02/10/2016
It was originally intended that “Passage of the Soul”, the name given to a concert of Eastern Orthodox choral music, would take place in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, in Wellington’s Hania Street. For those of us who hadn’t been to the venue the chance to do so represented an additional incentive to attend this Baroque Voices concert, which was evocatively subtitled “Choral Whispers... read more

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