Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Festival Singers – an entertaining but mixed operatic bag at Waiwhetu

It was a splendid idea for a concert:  Perform sacred works, or quasi-religious works, by some of the great opera composers. Vary it with instrumental pieces, including some for strings, and a soloist or two. Introduce the items in informative and amusing, but brief, words. The formula was fine, but the performances did not always live up to the promise. Using an electronic organ, sometimes with piano, to accompany the pieces... read more

Archi d’Amore Zealanda with delightful programme of New Zealand compositions, plus Bach

The ensemble brought a thoroughly delightful programme to an appreciative audience.  What was unusual was that apart from the solo Bach work, the music played was contemporary, whereas one would expect that the viola d’amore would be playing music from a much earlier times.  The programme notes included this comment ‘...the instrument has been enjoying a renaissance since the mid-twentieth century, with new works being composed and old works... read more

Choral singing flourishes in Wellington region Big Sing gala concert

As I said in 2015 (in a review of the Big Sing National Finale concert), it is marvellous to find so many young people taking part in choirs and obviously enjoying it.  Apparently there are more choirs in the 2017 Festival than ever before, and it seems to me that the standard is always rising.  The fact that all the choirs learn all their pieces by heart is staggering... read more

Acclamation for Auckland Viva Voce’s remarkable performance of enthralling work on pilgrimage: Camino de Santiago de Compostela

The programme’’s sub-title for the work was “Joby Talbot’s stunning choral depiction of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.”  The blurb was right; this was a truly remarkable work, of just over an hour’s almost constant unaccompanied singing (apart from the periodic use of 8 traditional small cymbals,or crotales), with no applause until the end. Talbot is a 46-year-old British composer who has written in many genres, including opera and ballet... read more

Renowned Bach scholar and conductor Suzuki with fine baroque ensemble Juilliard415

It is wonderful for audiences in New Zealand to welcome back Masaaki Suzuki, this time with an ensemble of students from the famous Juilliard School based at the Lincoln Center in New York.   The 18 instrumentalists came from 8 different countries. Suzuki, as well as running his own choral and orchestral ensembles and teaching in Tokyo, teaches also at Juilliard.  He is a renowned Bach scholar and conductor, and... read more

Interesting organ programme from Tom Chatterton at St James, Lower Hutt

Tom Chatterton, a fairly recent arrival from Britain (where he attended Uppingham School, where Professor Peter Godfrey taught before coming to New Zealand), was heard by upwards of 40 people, on the impressive three-manual organ.  His mixing of shorter, more lyrical pieces between longer, more serious ones was good programming.  It was a shame that the Bach Prelude and Fugue was a substitute for Toccata in C, BWV 564... read more

Woodwind students present entertaining, varied music at St Andrew’s lunchtime concert

To hear young performers is always a pleasure; here we had seven young woodwind players, along with three pianists.  The first piece used  a student pianist, and the Bach work was unaccompanied.  Hugh McMillan and Kirsten Robertson were authoritative pianists for the other items. Bridget Douglas, principal flute with the NZSO is acting Head of Winds, and she introduced the concert.  After that, the players introduced their items, and it... read more

Peter Walls steps in to conduct Bach Choir in Vivaldi and the Bach family

Great praise is due to Peter Walls for the success of this concert; previous conductor Peter de Blois had departed overseas leaving rather short notice for the preparation of the music.  Without this explanation, the audience would hardly be aware that ample time was not available for rehearsal, such was the high standard of most of the music presented.  One item originally scheduled, by J. Christian Bach, was dropped ... read more

Renowned Bach scholar and conductor Suzuki with fine baroque ensemble Juilliard415

It is wonderful for audiences in New Zealand to welcome back Masaaki Suzuki, this time with an ensemble of students from the famous Juilliard School based at the Lincoln Center in New York   The 18 instrumentalists came from 8 different countries. Suzuki, as well as running his own choral and orchestral ensembles and teaching in Tokyo, teaches also at Juilliard.  He is a renowned Bach scholar and conductor, and Wellington... read more

Memorable Lower Hutt recital of the familiar and the unknown

Chamber music at its best.  Splendid performers, enthusiastic, receptive audience, good acoustics, masterworks of the repertoire.  One can’t ask for much more, whether the players are from overseas or are our locals – the latter the case this time, with strings all from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, with the added talents of pianist Jian Liu, from the New Zealand School of Music.  However, the concert deserved a larger... read more

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