Music Futures diverting showcase for rising young musicians

Music Futures: The Sound of Wellington Youth Music 2016

Blue Notes (Tawa College Chamber Choir, conductor: Isaac Stone, accompanist: Martin Burdan)
Mendelssohn and Daughters; Zephyr Wills (violin), Vanessa O’Neill (piano) and Emily Paterson (cello)
Guest artists: Malavika Gopal and Anna van der Zee (violins), Thomas Guldborg (percussion)
Lavinnia Rae (cello) and Hugh McMillan (piano)

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Sunday 31 July, 3 pm

Music Futures is an independent enterprise set up by a group of people who felt there was a need for something more to help talented young musicians through financial awards, performance, opportunities, workshops and masterclasses, mentoring, and lending and hiring instruments. This was their first public performance this year. Members of the NZSO are among the tutors and mentors.

This concert set out in part to illustrate the range of musical genres: a chamber choir, a cut-down concerto, a chamber group and an arrangement of an Indian raga from some of the grown-up participants.

The Tawa College’s small choir, Blue Notes, demonstrated a quality that would, for any average listener, demand top place in any choral competition, such as the Big Sing in Dunedin, where they have been nominated as finalists later this month. Three small pieces, one by their suburban mentor Craig Utting (Monument), slow, clear harmonies and, like all their items a display of admirably sensitive dynamics. Their other offerings were from almost the extremes of western music, from the ‘Agnus Dei’ from Palestrina’s Missa Brevis to Stephen Sondheim’s The Miracle Song. They also contributed at the end of the concert with a careful studied a cappella choral piece by Brahms: ‘Dem dunkeln Schloss der heil’gen Erde’ and Karimatanu Kuicha by Ko Matsushita, that involved tricky intonation and rhythms: all from memory.

The first movement of Mendelssohn’s piano trio in D minor, Op 49 was played by three players from Kapiti and Wellington Girls’ colleges, two girls and a boy, named as if they were Mendel’s son and daughter. Though it’s such a gorgeous work and I know it so well, I can’t remember when last heard it. They played it with a certain languorousness, not altogether inappropriate; but an excellent way to prolong the delicious experience of that rapturous second theme.

Three NZSO players then recreated an arrangement by violinist Malavika Gopal of a raga by Ravi Shankar, entitled La Danse, for two violins and tabla. That offered an attractive contrast to the rest of the concert.

Then we had a foretaste of the concerto that NZSM student Lavinnia Rae was to play the coming Wednesday at the combined concert between the NZSM orchestra and the Wellington Youth Orchestra: Shostakovich’s first cello concerto (first two movements), the orchestra’s part played by Hugh McMillan. Played without the score, this was a remarkably mature and accomplished performance that revealed a real dramatic awareness, as well as brilliant handling of false harmonics in the second movement.

I regretted the likelihood of missing that concert.

There will be two further concerts from Music Futures: on 18 September and 13 November. They too are bound to be highly rewarding experiences for the audience.



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