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Upcoming Events

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra | Whitehead, Kuusisto, Sibelius


Benjamin Northey | Conductor
Andrew Haveron | Soloist

Gillian Whitehead | Retrieving the fragility of peace
Kuusisto | Violin Concerto Op. 28
Sibelius | Symphony No. 2 in D Major Op. 43

Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 was the first work that our Sibelius Academy-trained Chief Conductor Benjamin Northey conducted with CSO – we return to this gem of the repertoire in celebration of Ben’s tenth year at the helm. The Sydney Morning Herald reviewed one of his recent interpretations of the work with “it was one of those performances where everything comes together magnificently to create a halcyon moment of surprised delight.”

We pair Sibelius with another Finnish composer who local audiences will be thrilled to discover: Jaakko Kuusisto. The talents of British violinist Andrew Haveron will bring this virtuosic work off the page – as Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony, and former Concertmaster of the BBC Symphony and first violinist of the Brodsky Quartet, he is an artist not to be missed.

The concert opens with a work written around the same time as Kuusisto’s concerto but on our shores: Dame Gillian Whitehead’s Retrieving the fragility of peace is dedicated to Lyell Cresswell, who passed away while she was writing the work, and she says “I think it may reflect something of the times we’re living in, but words can’t express as music does.”

June 15, 2024 19:30 — June 15, 2024 21:30   ·   Douglas Lilburn Auditorium

Orchestra Wellington | The Jazz Age


SOUNZ Commission for Orchestra and Arohanui Strings

Porgy and Bess | George Gershwin (1898 – 1937), arr. Russ Garcia (1916 – 2011)
Deborah Wai Kapohe
Eddie Muliaumaseali'í
Siliga Sani Muliaumaseali'í
Signature Choir

Gershwin based his opera on a 1925 novel by DuBose Heyward about a crippled Charleston man who got around on a goat-cart. The novel, turned into a play by DuBose and his wife, became a tremendously successful play. In 1934, Gershwin was invited to the Heyward’s summer house at Folly Beach, near Charleston. Catfish Row, the fictional location of Porgy and Bess, is based on a street in nearby James Island mostly inhabited by the Gullahs, descendants of the African coastal towns who made their living as fishermen and stevedores. Gershwin immersed himself in the Gullah’s musical and speech rhythms, and attended their religious revivals, which had their own unique vocal patterns. The result, which Gershwin called a folk opera, blended classical, jazz, gospel, spirituals and blues in a completely new way. The story of between Porgy, a crippled beggar blessed with optimism, and Bess, an outcast woman cursed with a violent jailbird boyfriend, is rich with drama, danger, love, danger and compassion.

Russ Garcia arranged the opera in 1956 for the second complete recording of the opera and the first to use, instead of classically-trained performers, jazz singers (in this case Mel Torme and Frances Faye) and musicians drawn from, among other groups, the Duke Ellington Band. Garcia recorded it again in 1957 with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong in the lead roles, and a big orchestra of strings, horns and woodwinds. The album won a Grammy Hall of Fame award.

November 09, 2024 19:30   ·   Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

Orchestra Wellington | A Modern Hero


Hour of Lead | Eve de Castro Robinson (1956-)
War Requiem | Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)
Morag Atchison - soprano
Benson Wilson - baritone
The Orpheus Choir of Wellington

Britten was steeped in the English choral tradition and its liturgical music. In 1962, he was able to fulfil his long-held desire to compose a large‑scale choral work when he was asked to provide music for the dedication of Coventry Cathedral, rebuilt after Luftwaffe bombs Coventry’s beloved 14th-century Cathedral. An important symbolic occasion, it allowed Britten to air in public his pacifist beliefs and his faith in humanity’s capacity for compassion. In a break from tradition, he blended the traditional Latin mass for the dead with nine of Wilfred Owens’ poems from WW1. In Britten’s own words, he offered the War Requiem as “an act of reparation”. On the title page of the score, he quoted the poet, "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity …All a poet can do today is warn.”

The Requiem requires huge forces: a very large orchestra, a smaller chamber orchestra which accompanies the soloists, two organs, three soloists, main chorus, and boys’ choir. When it was first recorded, the Requiem sold 200,000 copies within five months — a rare example of a contemporary work that was immediately embraced by the public.

Stravinsky noticed, and sniped, "Behold the critics as they vie in abasement before the wonder of native-born genius. Kleenex at the ready, and feeling as though one had failed to stand up for God Save The Queen, one goes from the critics to the music…”

Britten could give as well as take, saying of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, "I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music."

December 07, 2024 19:30   ·   Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
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