Auckland's great orchestra starts year in fine form but future funding is still a problem
The first Auckland Philharmonia concert of the year gave an indication of the orchestra's strengths and its programming of diverse and interesting works.
The three pieces spanned nearly 300 years, with each of the works roughly 100 years apart: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 20, Strauss’ Thus Sprach Zarathustra and Mark-Anthony Turnage's Scherzoid of 2004.
The orchestra performed two of the works with more than 100 players and with just on 60 for the Mozart. As soloist in the piano concerto was one of the leading new young internationally acclaimed pianists, Norwegian Gunilla Sissman.
This range of orchestral works will be continued in the programme for the year, with a few late 20th and 21st century works, including the Armenian Alexander Arutiunian, Trumpet Concerto and English composer Thomas Ades’s Three Studies from Couperin.
The programme has a number of seminal works of the 20th century, such as Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny Suite and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
The core of the programme is filled with the great classical works: Beethoven’s Symphony No 3, Elgar's Cello Concerto, the Bruch Violin Concerto and Mahler’s Symphony No 4 with soprano Madeleine Pierard.
The biggest production will be during the Auckland Festival and will feature Benjamin Britten’s huge War Requiem, which makes use of a children’s choir, Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and the New Zealand Youth choir.
The work, which is a cry against the horrors of war, uses the Latin Mass for the Dead and poems by Wilfred Owen.
At the first concert the Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson was on stage praising the orchestra and CEO Barbara Glaser thanked him in advance for the outcome of the Orchestra Sector Review.
She was probably meaning that he would make the right decision which would see the APO gaining increased funding. This would enable the country to have two world-class orchestras in the NZSO and the APO.
The inequality of the current funding model needs to change to rectify the current imbalance between the NZSO’s $13.4 million funding and the APO’s $2.1 million.
Unlike the NZSO, the APO plays a major part in the cultural life of the city as opposed to the fly in and out contribution of the NZSO.
It contributes to the lives of Aucklanders through its concerts, education and community programme. Its reach, impact and importance is unmatched by any other orchestra in the world.
The orchestra is a key part of the community it serves, reflecting and contributing to the vibrancy of that community.
The Orchestra Review confirmed that the APO would need an extra $3 million per annum to equate to the size and artistic quality of the NZSO. The additional funding were it provided would be applied to inputs such as remuneration increases for players additional musicians and administrative staff. This would increase the orchestra's capacity to do more concerts and community work.
The Review acknowledges significant achievement by the APO board, executive and musicians, that the APO has achieved full-time status, is a 70 musician orchestra, and has increased substantially its funding from local and central government.
The report recommends that the APO be designated a metropolitan orchestra, a role distinct from the other city orchestras and from the national touring orchestra. This is in recognition of its professional status, scale of activity, scope of programmed work and the size of the local council's funding contribution.
Having said how great the. APO is, the report stops short of providing additional
It hardly needed a review of the orchestral sector to realise that the government needs to find a means of funding the APO to at least double its current level of central government funding.