Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Annual Wellington Aria Contest final showcases some fine talent

By , 18/09/2016
This year eighteen singers entered for the annual aria contest (it used to be the Hutt Valley Aria, when there was also a Wellington-based contest, run by the Wellington Competitions Society which died in the 1970s). Some names were more familiar to me than others. I had only recalled Laura Loach in a smaller role in last year’s Gondoliers from Wellington G&S Light Opera, but couldn’t recall her voice. Her... read more

Three wonderful concerts on the day for Mozart and Brahms string quintets

By , 17/09/2016
A series of concerts, like this on Saturday, probably hasn’t been heard in Wellington since 1988 when the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts (as it was originally called) presented members of the Australia Ensemble (six of them), playing all six (not just the four we hear this weekend) of Mozart’s string quintets, plus Brahms’s two string sextets and his string quintet Op 111. It was sponsored by... 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

Intriguing and largely successful Villani Piano Quartet recital at Lower Hutt

By , 12/09/2016
Last Saturday’s subscription concert by Orchestra Wellington explored connections between Mahler, his wife, Alma, the unfinished tenth symphony, Alma’s lover of the time, the famous architect Walter Gropius, their daughter, Manon, born after Mahler’s death, and Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto written in memory of her death aged 18 (a bit sad that Berg's compulsion to memorialise Manon's death probably stopped him from completing Lulu). A further connection was that... read more

Admirably staged and sung opera and music theatre excerpts from the school of music

By , 11/09/2016
The school of music’s once annual opera productions have in recent years fallen back to biennial events. In the between years, students create a series of scenes from opera, against a background of elementary sets and a few props that can, with a bit of imagination, be used in various settings. This production employed around sixteen singers, though the photo gallery in the printed programme contained 23 faces which included... read 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

Tony Chen Lin – piano evocations, visions and premonitions at St.Andrew’s

By , 11/09/2016
Tony Chen Lin was one of two supremely gifted young Christchurch-based pianists (the other was Jun Bouterey-Ishido) who “slugged it out” for first prize at the 2008 Kerikeri International Piano Competition, an event which I had the good fortune to attend. The adjudicator, Australian pianist Ian Munro, awarded Jun Bouterey-Ishido the first prize by what he acknowledged was the narrowest of margins, a decision I was glad I didn’t... read more

Schubert’s “Great”, and Mahler-Berg connections explored brilliantly by Wilma Smith and Orchestra Wellington

In his introductory remarks about each work to be played, Marc Taddei referred to the poignant use of the Bach chorale ‘Ich habe genug’, by Alban Berg in the latter part of his violin concerto, the second item on the programme.  He said ‘Wouldn’t it be good if there was a way to let you hear that’.  He turned away from the audience, and up popped a choir from... read more

Plenty of pre-university talent for the school of music to draw on

It is inevitable in a concert of this sort that there will be a great variance in skill levels, and in musicianship.  This time, there were fewer really young students than I have heard in previous concerts of this type; nearly all would be intermediate or secondary school students, I would guess.  The comments below are made not to criticise the individual players, but hopefully to assist them to... read more

Promising new choir premieres with varied, courageous programme

Described in advance publicity as ‘a new professional choir’ and that ‘The concert will consist of music from all the continents and will explore our basic needs to commune with nature, spirituality and our love of community and family’, there were high expectations.  Caution recalls that some years ago Professor Peter Godfrey set up a choir that he hoped would be professional, but it did not last.  Such a... read more

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