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Posts tagged: contemporary music

Magnificent NZSO concert, with percussionist Colin Currie, under James MacMillan

By , 08/07/2017
I had rather expected that, even if the pieces by Adès and MacMillan had not exactly created a stampede for tickets, that the remarkable, let’s even say ‘great’ symphony by Vaughan Williams would have done the trick. But no, it didn't. However, if it was something of a statement about the timidity of Wellington audiences, it was not a disgrace. Thomas Adès For another thing, I’d have thought the name Adès might... read more

Beautiful contemporary choral music from Cantoris: if only an orchestra!

By , 01/07/2017
It was a calm, cool, drizzly night, when most of Wellington’s population was either at the stadium, in pubs or at home watching a rugby match between New Zealand and the combined British-Ireland team. Very few: to wit, about 30, felt free to attend a rather fine concert by one of Wellington’s longest surviving choirs (almost 50 years). Those happy few had a wide choice of seating. The concert opened with... 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

Baroque Voices pay rich homage to NZ “Masters”

By , 28/05/2017
This concert was the eighth in the "Alleluia: a newë work" series by Baroque Voices, the idea being, in director Pepe Becker's own words, to "present works from the early music era alongside modern compositions", an undertaking which the group first instigated as long ago as 1995. Though the presentations have been consistent in their overall approach, the ensemble has managed to maintain an ever-fascinating and invariably rewarding range of... read more

“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

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