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New Zealand music tops this year’s classical chart

SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music is thrilled to share that, for the first time, a work by a New Zealand composer has been voted the most popular piece according to Settling the Score, RNZ Concert’s annual public poll of Aotearoa’s 100 favourite classical pieces. The results were revealed during the countdown broadcast on Labour Day, Monday 26 October.

Gallipoli to the Somme, by New Zealand composer Anthony Ritchie, won this year’s poll. It is a massive work for soprano, bass, choir and orchestra that was written to commemorate World War I.

Ritchie says, “How does one create a piece of music commemorating World War I? It is a daunting task, to say the least … ‘Gallipoli to the Somme’ is more quietly anti-war, and aims to make a humanist statement about ordinary peoples’ experience of the war. Ordinary people—soldiers, nurses, lovers, children from different nationalities—they are represented in some small way in this work, through diary entries, poems, traditional texts and songs, and even a military plan of battle.

RNZ Concert’s Settling the Score, which allows listeners to vote for their three favourite pieces of classical music, has been an annual occurrence for 20 years. Although New Zealand works have often appeared in the top 100, this is the first time that a New Zealand work has claimed the top spot (the most popular piece in Settling the Score 2019 was the ‘Grand March’ from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi).

This is a first for the music of Aotearoa New Zealand, and SOUNZ would like to congratulate Anthony Ritchie on this significant and well-deserved win. It demonstrates that New Zealand music is part of our everyday listening in the classical/art music genre. We would also like to acknowledge and thank RNZ Concert for the role it plays in bringing New Zealand music to a wide audience”, says SOUNZ Executive Director Diana Marsh.

For more in-depth information about Gallipoli to the Somme, visit SOUNZ Online or RNZ’s Music Alive.