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NZSO and APO offer great masterworks in 2016

Both the Auckland Philharmonia and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will feature new Music Directors next year.

John Daly-Peoples
Fri, 16 Oct 2015

Great masterworks will feature in the programmes for both the Auckland Philharmonia and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra next year, with both orchestras having new music directors.

Edo de Waart, who is one of the world’s most acclaimed conductors, will begin his tenure as the NZSO’s music director by presenting a Masterworks series, featuring concertos and symphonies by major composers including Dvorak's Symphony No 9 “From the New World”, Beethoven’s No 3, No 5 and No 7, Shostakovich No 1, Mahler No 3 and No 4 and Elgar’s Symphony No 1 and Richard Strauss works.

“These significant symphonies and concertos have been selected by Maestro de Waart for their brilliance and emotional power,” says NZSO chief executive Christopher Blake. “This music is at the core of the symphonic orchestral repertoire and hearing it in live performance under his baton will be an exhilarating and uplifting experience for concertgoers.”

Each of de Waart’s concerts will feature international soloists, including Dutch mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, renowned Mozart pianist Ronald Brautigam, Scottish-Italian violinist Nicola Benedetti, German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich, former NZSO principal horn Samuel Jacobs from the UK and German-born soprano Christiane Libor. “The orchestra is really excited about Edo de Waart’s arrival and the breadth of repertoire they’ll be playing throughout the whole season, from the finest contemporary classical music, exclusive world premieres and New Zealand works, to an evening of live accompaniment to two classic Hitchcock films, Psycho and Vertigo,” Mr Blake says.

Another jewel of the season will be the début of the eminent British conductor Sir Andrew Davis directing 128 musicians in Olivier Messiaen’s epic work Éclairs sur l’au delà, which translates as something like Flashes of Light. This concert will bring the NZSO and the NZSO National Youth Orchestra together on stage for the first time. The work incorporates birdsong from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Singapore. Messiaen's sole visit to Australia was during the country's bicentennial celebrations in 1988, during the period he was writing the work.

A jazz band with rhythm section, saxophones and swinging brass will be added to the usual orchestral line-up in September, as the NZSO collaborates with the iconic Rodger Fox Big Band in the tour, Swing into Spring. “The programme will feature the great American jazz trumpeter Allen Vizzutti and include specially written new arrangements,” Mr Blake says.

“We’ll be visiting 12 centres, from Kerikeri to Invercargill in our most extensive tour of the year.”

The NZSO will present its annual Anzac-inspired concert in April. Titled ‘Voices from the Field,’ it is a commemoration of the centenary of World War I. The concert will feature New Zealand soprano Madeleine Pierard performing in Ross Harris’ Symphony No. 2. The symphony is a setting of poems by Vincent O’Sullivan about New Zealand soldiers who were executed for desertion. In keeping with the poetic theme, the rest of the concert features works inspired by the English poets Rupert Brooke and A. E. Housman.

Two world premieres will feature in the NZSO’s next Aotearoa Plus concert. Grammy-award winning British conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey will premiere his orchestral suite, Time Tracks, and will also conduct the premiere of Christopher Blake’s Symphony – Voices, which draws on the voices and imagery of T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece The Waste Land.

Pianist Stephen Hough will return to delight concertgoers again, this time with Brahms’ Concerto No. 2, in a concert conducted by Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno. “Stephen Hough is popular with New Zealand audiences and his performance of this monumental concerto will be eagerly anticipated,” Mr Blake says.

The NZSO will also welcome back Peruvian maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya to conduct a colourful programme, including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Hailed as “astonishing” by Gramophone Magazine, German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser, a soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras, will make his debut with the NZSO in this concert playing Lalo’s exuberant Cello Concerto.

The Bold Worlds concert will explore American music, with United States conductor Fawzi Haimor at the helm. The orchestra will play Steve Reich’s Three Movements in celebration of Reich’s 80th birthday and virtuoso violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will debut with the orchestra, playing a concerto composed especially for her by American composer Mason Bates. The concert will close with Dvorak’s quintessentially American work, Symphony No. 9 From the New World.

“We will conclude our remarkable 2016 season with Handel’s Messiah, which has become a popular Christmas tradition in Wellington,” Mr Blake says. “We will be welcoming back Australian Handel scholar and broadcaster Graham Abbott to conduct a work for which he has a special affection.”

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's new music director, Giordano Bellincampi, will present a season of innovation, premieres and superstars. Maestro Bellincampi’s tenure as APO music director starts with Mahler’s Symphony No.5, and closes with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Among a world-class selection of musicians visiting the APO for the first time is celebrated pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy. Considered one of the greatest musicians of our time, Mr Ashkenazy conducts the orchestra in October 2016, in one of the APO’s New Zealand Herald Premier Series concerts.

Also appearing in that series are two world premieres; one from New Zealand composer Ross Harris, and another from the APO’s new composer-in-residence for 2016/2017: Karlo Margetić. APO chief executive Barbara Glaser said the young composer was well-known to the APO.

“Karlo was once our young composer-in-residence, and we’re thrilled to support this exciting step in his career. I look forward to the next two years with much anticipation,” she adds.

Other artists performing with the APO for the first time in 2016 are violinists Michael Barenboim, who performs the New Zealand premiere of Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto, and Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley playing Mozart; pianists Javier Perianes and Dejan Lazić; and Kazakh conductor Alan Buribayev, Principal Conductor of RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin.

Musical highlights from the season include a Latin American-inspired concert featuring music from Bernstein’s West Side Story and Copland’s El salon México; Ligeti’s imaginative Atmosphères, popularised in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; and orchestral showpieces including Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 and Dvorak’s Pastoral Symphony No.8.

Major stars returning to Auckland next year include pianists Cédric Tiberghien and Alexander Gavrylyuk, violinist Ning Feng, and cellist Li-Wei Qin.

Acclaimed choral conductor Stephen Layton also returns to the podium for a concert in The New Zealand Herald Premier Series, featuring a series of choral works by J.S. Bach and Arvo Pärt.

APO Director of Artistic Planning Ronan Tighe says the fact that soloists and conductors of this calibre return time and time again underlines the reputation the APO has developed. “These are some of the finest artists in the world today, and it’s wonderful to have established ongoing relationships with them,” Mr Tighe says.

The APO also unveiled a provocative new programme theme for its Newstalk ZB Series in 2016, featuring works that have historically fallen foul of various political regimes, or have been deemed unsuitable for public consumption. The three-concert series ‘Denounced’, ‘Degenerate’ and ‘Outraged’ includes music that has been criticised and even banned in the past, being considered radical and even illegal.

The Bayleys Great Classics Series will include two additional concerts scheduled at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna in addition to three concerts at the Town Hall. This series celebrates the famed and favourite composers, and next year it includes solo performances from APO Concertmaster Andrew Beer and 2015 Michael Hill International Violin Competition winner Suyeon Kang.

For avid gamers, an exciting New Zealand premiere next season is Final Symphony, a concert based on the music of the popular Final Fantasy series of video games, composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Fresh from a sell-out world tour and hit album, the concert will be in Auckland during the weekend of the Armageddon Expo in 2016, and will be conducted by outgoing APO music director Eckehard Stier, who has toured with the project and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the album recording at the famous Abbey Rd Studios.

Sponsored by the Trusts Community Foundation the APO will present Verdi’s Othello in collaboration with the New Zealand Opera. Singing the title role will be tenor Simon O’Neill, who returns to the New Zealand stage following a triumphant season of Tosca with New Zealand Opera.

O’Neill is supported by Italian soprano Maria Luigia Borsi as Desdemona and American Scott Hendricks as Iago, and the opera will be conducted by Maestro Bellincampi, in his operatic debut with the APO.

Ms Glaser says Mr O’Neill was the perfect choice for Otello. “Simon’s performance of Otello with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in 2009 garnered critical acclaim and since then he has proven to be one of the most accomplished tenors performing the role today.”

In addition to singing Otello, Simon O’Neill will also perform earlier in the year with the APO and New Zealand Opera in the New Zealand premiere of the John Adams opera Nixon in China, with O’Neill singing the role of Mao Zedong, a role he made his own with the San Francisco Opera in 2012.

“We’re thrilled to be involved with the Auckland Arts Festival once again,” says Ms Glaser. “Nixon in China is one of the most exciting operas of our generation and it’s a pleasure to perform it for the first time in New Zealand with an all-star cast,” she says.

Also part of the Auckland Arts Festival is Ruaumoko, the fifth annual Auckland Dance Project presented together with Atamira Dance Company. More than 100 school students will join the full APO for a performance set to the music of Gareth Farr’s Ruaumoko.

Other renowned New Zealanders joining the APO in 2016 include the Topp Twins who return five years after their sell-out performance with the APO in 2011; and entertainer Tim Beveridge, who joins a group of Kiwi crooners in a concert of music made famous by The Rat Pack.

Popular Australian conductor and music educator Richard Gill returns to guide audiences through the 2016 Unwrap the Music series, which reveals some of the inner workings of the most beloved works in the orchestral repertoire, including Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suites.

Once again, each Unwrap concert is coupled with a subsequent full performance of the work in a mainstage concert, allowing concertgoers to appreciate three much-loved orchestral works in a full-concert context. Outside mainstage performances, the APO continues with its In Your Neighbourhood concert series and an ever-popular Christmas concert at Holy Trinity Cathedral, as well as the award-winning APO Connecting programme which engages young people with orchestral music. These include three free Open Orchestra afternoons and two APO 4 Kids and APO 4 Kids Christmas concerts.

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John Daly-Peoples
Fri, 16 Oct 2015
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NZSO and APO offer great masterworks in 2016