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Orchestra Wellington – a “Golden” beginning to its 2018 season

By , 09/06/2018
Orchestra Wellington and Marc Taddei got their 2018 season off to an arresting start with a concert of three resplendent-sounding works, one whose effect simply got more and more celebratory and engaging as the evening went on. Aiding and abetting this state of things was the welcome presence of guest Concertmaster Wilma Smith, and a goodly-numbered audience whose support for the orchestra was richly rewarded. First came what I... read more

Orpheus – a Dance Drama – beautiful, complex and thought-provoking work from Michael Parmenter

By , 16/03/2018
The "Orpheus legend" is obviously one of the seminal "stories" which has contributed towards western civilisation's view of itself and its place in the world down the ages. Orpheus himself is a multi-faceted figure whose qualities and exploits have been variously treated and interpreted at different stages, a process that continues to this day, as witness choreopher Michael Parmenter's ambitious and wide-ranging "take" on the character's far-reaching exploits. Most people... read more

A polished and scrupulously studied recital by male vocal quartet, Aurora IV

By , 22/11/2017
I’m fairly sure that this was my first hearing of Aurora IV, a male vocal quartet whose repertoire stretches from the 16th to the 21st century, though I have long been familiar with Simon Christie’s voice and recall hearing Richard Taylor in other groups, particularly The Tudor Consort. One of the characteristics of the recital was the choice of words and music from widely separate eras. Thus the opening piece... read more

Excellent concert, with the old and the new, from NZTrio in a different City Gallery space

It was encouraging to see a largely young audience, including a number of professional musicians, at NZ Trio’s concert.  However, there were a lot of empty seats. The Ireland work began with a surging start, and immediately it was apparent what a good venue this was for chamber music (I had never been to a concert in this gallery before)..  The gallery was resonant, but there was no echo.  Despite... read more

Maximum Minimalism – simple, state-of-the-art complexities from Stroma

By , 19/10/2017
“Maximum Minimalism” was the wittily oxymoronic title for this concert by Wellington’s (New Zealand’s?) premiere contemporary music ensemble, Stroma. “Minimalism” was the name bestowed on a group of American composers who, in the 1960s, reacted against the forbidding complexity of atonal and serial music and began (largely independently of each other) employing the extended repetition of simple elements. Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley were the pioneers (La... read more

Entertaining concert, mixing symphony with jazz and a witty film score from Wellington Chamber Orchestra

By , 24/09/2017
One might have considered this an unorthodox programme, starting with a well-known Mozart symphony, ending with Prokofiev’s delightful Lieutenent Kije Suite and in between, songs by Mussorgsky and two jazz standards. The Mozart symphony is known as the 'Little G minor' Symphony to distinguish it from the big one, No 40. But it became easier to distinguish after its arresting opening was used as the introduction to the fictitious, misleading... read more

Camerata’s beguiling “What’s in a name?” concert of Haydn and Mozart

By , 31/08/2017
Founded in 2015 by the late and lamented Ian Lyons with colleague Liz Pritchett, Camerata is a group of musicians dedicated to the idea of making "high quality, joyful chamber music, accessible to aficionados and newcomers to classical music". Led by Anne Loeser, a violinist with the NZSO, the group consists of an amalgam of NZSO,Orchestra Wellington and Wellington Chamber Orchestra members, including in this evening's concert a number... 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

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

Schubert Concert at St.Andrews promises a weekend’s abundance

By , 03/06/2016

This was the first of what promised to be a delightful and rewarding "Schubertiade" of concerts featuring various solo artists and ensembles. The title "Cornucopia" possibly referred to the variety of instruments used throughout the evening; or else, to the range and scope of the composer's writing for these instrumental combinations. Whatever the case, the results suited the "abundant supply of good things" description suggested by the word... read more

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