New Zealand Festival offers something for all tastes
New Zealand Festival
February 21 – March 16
The three-week New Zealand Festival next year will feature some major international acts as well as some of New Zealand’s best performers with events from the classical to the cutting edge. There will be grand spectacles as well as intimate arts experiences, to be found among the 300 events
This will be the first festival from new artistic director Shelagh Magadza, who previously directed the Perth International Arts Festival. “From the family-friendly Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, the astonishing circus skills of Beyond, and the world-famous light and sound experience Power Plant at the Botanic Garden to the cult appeal of Yo La Tengo and the macabre magic of the delightfully twisted Tiger Lillies, I’m interested in celebrating great art in its many and various forms,” she says.
The programme features the theatre mastermind Robert Lepage with his updated version of Needles and Opium. Russian director Dmitry Krymov and his reworking of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It), commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, complete with giant puppets, acrobats and a performing Jack Russell. Early music expert Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan provide a double-bill of Bach, and choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company comes from Israel to New Zealand for the first time..
International headliners sit alongside Kiwi icons, including six world premiere productions. New Zealand Arts Foundation laureate Lemi Ponifasio. with MAU, will be presenting two new works: The Crimson House and Stones In Her Mouth. Ponifasio is a regular on the bills of major festivals overseas, and this is a rare chance to see his extraordinary creations. Writer Briar Grace-Smith, Auckland Theatre Company director Colin McColl and an all-star Kiwi cast will be presenting the Spanish-flavoured East Coast love story ¡Paniora!
“¡Paniora! is joined by a number of other events that have a strong Spanish influence,” says Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza. “Opera aficionados will be cast back to the Spanish Civil War in Ainadamar, by acclaimed composer Osvaldo Golijov - who the New York Times has called the “saviour of classical music”. Ainadamar celebrates the life of Federico García Lorca and our version features international soloists from the Grammy Award winning recording with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Maverick flamenco dancer Israel Galván from Seville also brings his quick-fire footwork and a bucket-load of charisma to the programme.”
Known for her interest in community participation, Shelagh says it is only fitting that the festival starts with a massive party open to all at Wellington’s Civic Square on 21 February. “The festival gets started with a Big Bang when 200 young drummers from across New Zealand join 300 singers from community choirs, Strike Percussion and Kora – all on one stage – it’s a great big community celebration,” she says.
For music lovers there’s jazz from Madeleine Peyroux, and a rich offering at Wellington’s James Cabaret, which sees an eclectic mix of music and cabaret from around the world including soul-survivor Charles Bradley and indie musician Neko Case. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will be performing five lunchtime symphonies in the Michael Fowler Centre. These will be the fifth symphonies by Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Shostakovich.
Writers Week will feature several writers including Eleanor Catton the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize, with her book The Luminaries talking about the idea of change – in fiction, of mind, and as a state.
Terry Castle, Professor of English at Stanford has been described as “an outstanding public intellectual” (The Guardian) who can speak with both humour and insight on almost any topic.
Biographer and curator Jill Trevelyan who has just published her biography of iconic Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavey will also speak.
Also on stage will be astrophysicist Marcus Chown, the celebrated author of Wild Swans, Jung Chang, Man Booker Prize winner Tom Keneally and global bestseller Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert.
The full festival line-up can be found at here