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SOUNZ Concerts
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NZ Concerti - SOUNZ virtual concert

NZ Concerti with the NZSO
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Alex Taylor’s Bassoon Concerto was written for bassoonist (and fellow composer) Ben Hoadley. Alex writes:

“I have been privileged to write for and collaborate with Ben, whose expressivity is, I think, one of the treasures of New Zealand music. I cannot speak for all listeners, but for me the bassoon is one of the most personal of all instruments. It speaks not grandly or with perfect eloquence but with an immediacy and intimacy that is quite special.

The bassoon concerto was an opportunity to create an extended work exploring the melodic line and to push the limits of Ben’s exquisite upper register. The work consists of three slow movements interrupted by two tiny slivers of energetic activity, ruptures in a continuous, static texture.

The work is dedicated to my parents, Vicki and Trish.”

The subtitle for Louise Webster’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra ‘In hollowed bone I hear the seas roar’’ is taken from ‘The Sea’ by New Zealand poet Ruth Dallas. Louise writes:

“Written in three movements, the first movement opens with a rising augmented figure in the solo violin which returns, in ever changing forms, throughout the movement. The second movement is fast, driven and rhythmic, and the final movement, a slow moving and sombre dance for the soloist and strings, with tacet woodwind and brass.”

Guest curator: NZSO

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Reminiscence- SOUNZ virtual concert

SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Four friends join the New Zealand String Quartet for this virtual concert of works by New Zealand composers. The programme celebrates the collaborative spirit and draws on themes of transience and reminiscence.

The performance opens with Gao Ping’s ‘Ephemera’, which depicts the ‘miraculous shine’ of the insect Fu You (ephemeron in Chinese) and premiered in Canada with clarinettist James Campbell in 2014.

Gillian Whitehead’s ‘still, echoing’, performed with English pianist Kathryn Stott follows. Unified by six notes, the piece explores the sound possibilities of a piano quintet as the instruments ebb and flow like the Pacific Ocean’s tide and evoke the stillness of Te Whanga Lagoon on Chatham Island.

Tenor Jared Holt and the NZSQ premiered Janet Jennings’s song-cycle ‘In Memorium’ in 2018 to mark centenary of the First World War. Based on four poems by English writer Edward Thomas, the work captures exhilaration and despair at the onset of war (‘The Trumpet’), solitude (‘The Owl’), confusion (‘The Gallows’), and concludes with a deeply-felt lament (‘In Memorium (Easter 1915)’).

A ‘deconstructed’ version of Now is the Hour, Gareth Farr composed He poroporoaki for the 2008 Dawn Service Commemoration at Gallipoli. To conclude this concert, the NZSQ perform with Taonga Pūoro artist Rob Thorne a decade later, as part of the NZ Festival.

Guest curator: NZSQ

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Aotearoa Plus - SOUNZ virtual concert

Aotearoa Plus
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

All of these works were inspired by the land and people of Aotearoa.Anthony Ritchie’s ‘Albatross in Flight’ genesis came from the sight of an albatross gliding in strong currents at Tairoa Head. Michael and Gareth’s works were both part of a series of commissions by the NZSO marking the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Captain Cook.

‘Mātauranga (Rerenga)’ by Michael Norris evokes the cultural collision between Cook and local iwi by integrating ngā taonga pūoro with the orchestra.

‘He Iwi Tahi Tātou’ is Gareth Farr’s “reaction…to the unique cultural energy that makes this country what it is – and my belief in the words ‘He iwi tahi tātou’ [‘We are all one people’].”

‘The Glittering Hosts of Heaven’ by Eve de Castro-Robinson sums up the universal sense of wonder we have when contemplating the physical vastness of space. The seven soloists represent the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades.

At Matariki there is renewed respect for the land. Commissioned by the NZSO in 2013.

Guest curator: Hamish McKeich & Bridget Douglas | NZSO

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NZSO NYO Composers  in Residence - SOUNZ virtual concert

NZSO NYO Composers in Residence
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Guest curators from the NZSO, Hamish McKeich (Principal Conductor in Residence) and Bridget Douglas (Section Principal Flute) present works by three of Aotearoa’s most exciting young composers, all graduates of the NZSM.

Multi award-winning composer, Salina Fisher, wrote ‘Rainphase’ when she was the 2015 NZSO NYO Composer in Residence. The work has had phenomenal success and has since been performed around the world.

Reuben Jelleyman has received international recognition for his works and is currently studying at the Conservatoire de Paris. ‘Vespro’ was written when he was the 2017 NZSO NYO Composer in Residence.

Tabea Squire was the youngest ever NZSO NYO Composer in Residence in 2008. ‘Ao’ was written in 2016 and performed by the NZSO at the NZ Composer Sessions in 2017.

Guest curator: Hamish McKeich & Bridget Douglas | NZSO

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Keeping the tradition- SOUNZ virtual concert

Keeping the tradition
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Chamber Music New Zealand made its first commission in 1959, a trio for violin, cello and piano from Edwin Carr. CMNZ has commissioned another 87 pieces since, from over 40 New Zealand composers, for performance by top New Zealand groups and international touring ensembles.Moving backward through this catalogue, this playlist comprises four pieces written in relationship to traditional classical forms.

Claire Cowan’s Subtle Dances was co-commissioned with NZTrio for their 2013 tour “Old World : New World”. Driven by the cello, i. subtle dances is a smoky, low-lit flamenco. In ii. elegy muted strings accompany the piano’s jazz-tinged lament. In iii. nerve lines a violin melody wails over churning chords, eventually being caught up in the energetic crescendo.

Gillian Whitehead wrote Quintet for Brisbane-based Southern Cross Soloists and their 2002 New Zealand tour. “[T]his piece explores more ‘classical’ ideas than some of my other recent pieces” writes Whitehead in the foreword, meaning the 6-note theme as well as the traditions addressed by each section. The middle of the piece is an oboe cadenza and what follows is a reversion of what preceded.

John Elmsley’s Passacaglia was written for Auckland Chamber Music Players’ 1984 tour. The hallmarks of the passacaglia form—a looped descending bass line and a triple meter—are often obscured, though never discarded, and the traditional somber tone is intact in the slower middle section.

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Tectonic Echoes II - Sounz virtual concert

Tectonic Echoes II
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Tectonic Echoes II opens with a dialogue between Māori and European traditions, firstly in Whitehead’s (NZ) evocative response to Horomona Horo’s taonga pūoro call, and then in the collaborative unity presented by Mayall’s (NZ) beautifully elemental work. 

Finally our attention is drawn to the battle between Russia’s aching angst and America’s swing and swagger; Schnittke in one corner and Schnyder in the other.

Guest curator: NZTrio

* NZTrio’s Tectonic series features intense examination of the fundamental forces that shape environments and communities:

We bear witness to the evolving relationship between Māori and Pakeha, and also inspect the struggle between Cold War superpowers Russia and America.

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RĀ WHĀNAU - SOUNZ virtual concert

Rā Whānau - a 20th birthday celebration
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Over the last 20 years, Stroma has been a major force for musical exploration in New Zealand, bringing to life classic repertoire of the twentieth century alongside new works composed specially for us. This virtual concert is a sampler of some of the highlights of our performances over the years, lovingly recorded for posterity by RNZ Concert and SOUNZ.

The concert begins where it all started, with the music of Douglas Lilburn, specifically one of his Nine Short Pieces, played by pianist Emma Sayers. It receives an eloquent, evocative response for the ensemble composed by Salina Fisher. This is followed by an ‘opening up’ of space and time, in Jeroen Speak’s intricate and compelling work ‘Eratosthene’s Sieve’.

John Rimmer’s ‘Where Sea Meets Sky 2’, inspired by a view of the merging horizon observed during a trans-Tasman flight, is followed by Gillian Whitehead’s evocative ‘Hineraukatauri’, with Bridget Douglas (flutes) joined by Alistair Fraser (tango puoro).

The concert finishes on a high note with Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s crossover work for Stroma and jazz octet The Jac.

Guest curator: STROMA

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Tectonic Echoes I - Sounz virtual concert

NZTrio: Tectonic Echoes I
SOUNZ Virtual Concert

NZTrio’s Tectonic series features intense and intimate inspection of the fundamental forces that shape environments and communities: Aotearoa’s fraught relationship with the United Kingdom, and the struggle between Cold War superpowers Russia and America. Tectonic Echoes I compares and contrasts the very English sounds of Frank Bridge and the UK’s shining star Rebecca Clarke with NZTrio’s commission from Martin Lodge (NZ), a response to the evolving Māori – Pakeha relationship, and a time-twisting earlier commission from composing patriarch, Ross Harris.

*A special concert including non-New Zealand composers released during the COVID-19 pandemic in support of New Zealand musicians.

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Observations - SOUNZ virtual concert

SOUNZ Virtual Concert

Ross James Carey’s Toccatina (Elegy) was written in memory of Australian songwriter Ruby Hunter. Melodies are overlaid on a busy hocketing texture, reaching ever upwards.

Fritha Jameson’s ‘Heurism’, for three flutes, is an exploration of the possibilities of limited material, giving the effect of an object being observed from multiple perspectives.

We finish with the multi-functional virtuosity of Gao Ping’s ‘Si Bu Xiang’ (‘The Four Not-Alike’) for piano and Chinese instruments. ‘Si bu xiang’ is the informal name for the Milu (David’s Deer), a species of deer native to China that has been observed to embody aspects of four other animals, like a four-part Chimera.

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SOUNZ Virtual Concert

In commemoration of ANZAC Day, SOUNZ is proud to present this programme of two pieces. Gillian Whitehead’s ‘Poroporoaki’ (Farewell) is a haunting exploration of taonga puoro improvisations by Richard Nunns. Ross Harris collaborated with poet Vincent O’Sullivan and taonga puoro composer Horomona Horo to create ‘Requiem for the Fallen’, a deeply moving work for tenor, chamber choir, taonga puoro and string quartet, in memory of soldiers who died on the First World War.

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These three pieces use found sounds and the spoken word. 

Jack Bewley splices together parliamentary proceedings in a rhythmic ‘trio’ with oboe and marimba. 

Gillian Bibby’s ‘You Can’t Kiss the Tummy of a Caged Lion’ combines disparate texts, including descriptions of the instruments, accounts of Cook’s death and even the letter commissioning the work, while Celeste Oram’s ‘Young People’s Guide to the Orchestra’ is a love letter to Radio New Zealand and the uncompromising exuberance of the youth orchestra.

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Kōrero - SOUNZ virtual concert

SOUNZ Virtual Concert

I always enjoy watching a performance where the musicians are engaging on multiple levels- both with the other musicians in their ensembles, and with the music itself as they push and pull against its framework. I’ve chosen these performances to explore some of the many ways that that kōrero works- from the ‘head down, ears wide open’ performers in a big band or the NZTrio, to the camaraderie that’s obvious in the performances by Sumo or Antipodes. Sometimes the kōrero is present via each performer’s dialogue with the music itself, as in the CODE Quartet or Kevin Field’s band (sometimes known as Dog), which then leads to further interlocking conversations between the musicians.

Guest curator: Nick Tipping

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