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Posts tagged: contemporary music

“Firebird” from Orchestra Wellington an incendiary experience

By , 13/05/2017
This was, in this best of all possible worlds, the best possible start to Orchestra Wellington's "The Impresario" season, a beautifully-devised concert whose centrepiece was Igor Stravinsky's 1910 Ballet "The Firebird". This piece, commissioned by the Russian-born artistic entrepreneur Sergei Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes in Paris, began a collaboration between composer and impresario which was to produce three of the most famous ballets of the 20th century, the... read more

Aotearoa Plus from the NZSO set alight by Gareth Farr premiere

By , 05/05/2017
A concert with the name "Aotearoa Plus" begs the question of how an orchestra might best support and present the music of native composers - the title is one which, in my artless way, I thought might have fairly been expected to accompany rather more homegrown examples of composition than were allowed for here. Thank goodness, then, in my view, for Gareth Farr's work, and its performance, which delivered a... read more

NZTrio at St.Andrew’s in Wellington – and homage to Justine Cormack

By , 30/04/2017
Outside of the brilliant performances of the music, the most stupendous revelation for some at the NZ Trio's recent Wellington concert would have been the announcement, made at the concert's end by local chamber music organiser Julie Coulson, that the trio's violinist Justine Cormack would be leaving the group mid-2017 - of course for people who "keep abreast" of things like this by reading newsletters and the like (a... read more

Orpheus Choir’s “Chichester Psalms” concert terrific! – but James MacMillan has the last word……..

By , 29/04/2017
As with music and art in general, people's responses to matters of spiritual belief seem to vary enormously from individual to individual. Despite what seems like an ever-increasing secularisation of everyday life, we’re still can’t help being either active or passive observers of institutionalised calendar commemorations based on matters of belief in God which affect various human activities - we're regularly made aware of certain historical frameworks and structures... read more

America: NZSO performances of brilliant new violin concerto plus Dvořák in New York and Reich in minimalist heaven

By , 08/10/2016
Once upon a time to have scheduled the New World Symphony would have guaranteed a pretty full house in spite of its being accompanied by unfamiliar music. But sometimes I think that as the years pass, the general public is becoming, not more open and adventurous, and simply ‘well-informed’ in the arts, and music too, but less in all those spheres. And there are various reasons: slavery to the flat... read more

Quintessence on show via youth and experience at Michael Fowler Centre

By , 17/09/2016
What a lovely idea,  arranging a day of performances of quintets for strings, and then giving the arrangement the name “quintessence” – and I must confess to not previously knowing the origin of the term in classical and medieval philosophy, of the “fifth” element or essence, a substance said to comprise the makeup of the celestial bodies, no less! In relation to Chamber Music New Zealand’s event, Quintessence was... read more

NZ Trio with Xia Jing – violin, ‘cello, piano and guzheng

By , 16/09/2016

This concert was part of Victoria University Confucious Institute’s China/New Zealand Musical Exchange programme, and sponsored jointly by the Confucious Institute and the China Cultural Centre in New Zealand, with support from both the Asia New Zealand Foundation and Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.

A special feature of the concert was the presence of Xia Jing, one of the foremost exponents of the guzhengread more

Sombre Music of the Low Countries from the Bach Choir

Most of this music made me feel low, like the countries.  Only Sweelinck (1562-1621) seemed to sparkle with life, and he was much the oldest of the composers performed, the others being all from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  I decided that I liked soulful music – but not doleful music.  After hearing two sombre works (first movement from Mahler’s 10th symphony and Berg’s violin concerto) the previous evening ... read more

Cellist Rebecca Turner with intriguing and entertaining music on carbon-fibre cello

By , 03/08/2016
There are certain benefits in forming habits, and the weekly lunchtime concerts at St Andrew’s are among the less sinful of what I’m prepared to confess to. Well, there was the weather. But I was there and though we (Middle C Incorporated) had not assigned the reviewing to anyone, Rebecca Turner’s performance of a totally unknown composer soon had me reaching for pen and notebook. It was by a composer... read more

Youth and experience together produce brilliant and heartfelt Messiaen

By , 08/07/2016

Elizabeth Kerr's pre-concert talk, gratifyingly well-attended and enthusiastically received, placed its listeners right in the epicenter of things relating to Olivier Messiaen and his final completed work Éclairs sur l’au-delá (Illuminations of the Beyond), whose performance by the NZSO/NYO was to follow shortly after.

In a masterstroke of juxtapositioning she took us straightaway to an event that took place in January 1941, in a German prisoner-of war camp... read more

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