Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

A comprehensive update on the Concert FM crisis; courtesy New Zealand Opera News

By , 04/04/2020

The Plight and Future of RNZ Concert

A report and comment on what were the proposed changes to this important Public Service Radio Broadcast Medium RNZ Concert to be Gutted On 5 February 2020 this announcement hit the headlines immediately before the Waitangi Day Holiday period on 6 February 2020. This announcement was not signalled in advance and we believe was not sanctioned by the Broadcasting Minister, Kris... read more

The composer of Kopernikus, Claude Vivier: interview with conductor Vladimir Jurowski

By , 04/04/2020
In the absence of real concerts that Middle C can review, why not publish things of musical interest that might in small part make up for the deprivations we all suffer at present?  Here is an article that appeared in 2018 in the Montreal Globe and Mail that might interest those who saw Claude Vivier’s opera, Kopernikus, at the recent festival in Wellington. I came across a reference to Vivier... read more

A piano recital that disabused one of certain beliefs and expectations

By , 20/03/2020
The audience at this diverting little concert at St Andrew’s was not large, as alarm at the spread of Covid-19 has become more intense. The happy few were interestingly entertained, at what could well be a very rare event for some time. Ursula Gabriele Gschwendtner has lived in New Zealand since 1996 and calls herself “a classical pianist, a composer and a clown”. The first two talents were conspicuous on... read more

Music’s response to Covid-19 – from the United States

By , 18/03/2020
Opera America, the organisation that shares information about and advocates for opera in the United States has posted the following list of companies and artists that can be accessed on line:  "See our COVID-19 Resource Hub for a list of performances that have been canceled or postponed. The following companies and artists are offering performances that can be streamed online:

Scrupulous and spirited choral concert from Netherlands Chamber Choir

By , 07/03/2020
The Netherlands Chamber Choir has a fine reputation in the more sophisticated realms of international choirs. Brahms motet I have to confess, as a lover of Brahms’s orchestral, piano and chamber music, that neither his Lieder nor his choral works have appealed to me greatly: especially the a cappella pieces.  Warum ist das Licht gegeben dem Mühseligen? (‘Why has light been given to the weary soul?’) is one of a pair... read more

Splendid piano-four-hands recital crowned by the Schubert Fantasie in F minor: Emma Sayers and Rachel Thomson

By , 04/03/2020
Here was a charming and admirable lunchtime recital: the ideal recipe for cleansing your emotions and mind of the wild, eccentric experiences of this year’s Festival: in my case a Kopernikus and a Mad King in close proximity. Piano duets can be edgy affairs as they demand a perfection of ensemble that’s called for from hardly any other musicians who play together. Apart from the Schubert, this was not heavy-weight... read more

Letter from Hon Kris Faafoi: a turn-around on RNZ Concert?

By , 04/03/2020
Though the Prime Minister had announced earlier that an unused FM frequency was in fact available, which meant that Concert could continue to use its existing frequencies, while the proposed youth network would use the till-now unused ones, many other important aspects of the service that have been eroded over the past year or so, still look at risk. What of the plans to fire all 18 existing Concert presenters... read more

Festival stages remarkable, eccentric opera by Canadian, Claude Vivier

By , 01/03/2020
It hasn’t been hard to have missed references in the international musical press to a very unusual opera by an unorthodox, fairly obscure composer. Think again if you imagined you would be presented with a kind of operatic biography of the great astronomer, for he is merely one of a number of disparate historical and fictional figures that feature in Canadian composer Claude Vivier’s work. A work that that is... read more

Barbara Paterson’s moving operatic portrayal of love in crisis in Poulenc’s monodrama

By , 27/02/2020
My colleague Peter Mechen reviewed what might have been considered the preview performance of Poulenc’s monodrama La voix humaine, on 31 January. But being a huge fan of Poulenc I felt that Paterson's performance in the Festival itself deserved attention. La voix humaine is one of the most remarkable operatic pieces: not merely of the 20th century; not merely on account of the music which is a tremblingly vivid evocation of... read more

NZSO, Gorecki and Ponifasio/MAU share singularly successful juxtaposing of utterly disparate creations, of profound common human vulnerabilities

By , 21/02/2020
It might have been slightly unusual to open a festival with a work (two works?) whose subject was the nature of woman, childbirth, even death, and dealing indirectly with one of the most terrible episodes in history. However, it drew attention to the way in which this festival has been created and conceived. Substantially put together by three leading figures in the performing arts, ‘Guest Curators’, carefully chosen with attention... read more

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