Amalia Hall of Orchestra Wellington

Orchestra Wellington Returns to Stage

June 5, 2020
1 min read

Orchestra Wellington this weekend becomes the city’s first major music organisation to give a concert since lockdown ended, reports RICHARD BETTS.


Amalia Hall of Orchestra Wellington

Concert audiences in Wellington move a step closer to normality (the old normal, rather than the new normal) this Saturday when members of Orchestra Wellington give the first of three sold-out programmes of Mozart.

The orchestra, under the guidance of concertmaster Amalia Hall, is observing strict Level 2 distancing rules, and the audience, which is limited to 100, will be similarly spaced at St Andrew’s on The Terrace, which has a capacity of 300.

OW’s general manager, Kirsten Mason, says the idea was to bring the orchestra back together and to have live music return to Wellington.

“We’re very proud to be staging the first series of live concerts in the city post-lockdown.”

Amalia Hall of Orchestra Wellington

Mason admits that the build-up has been unusual, though.

“A lot of work has gone into planning the health and safety required for these concerts,” Mason says. “The orchestra layout onstage provides for quite a bit more space between individual players, particularly the woodwind and brass who obviously exhale more than string players.”

Even during tea breaks, the players have been divided into groups of 10 or so to minimise contact backstage.

It helps that the works demand a small, chamber-sized orchestra. Hall performs Mozart’s fifth, fourth and third violin concertos across consecutive weekends, and also directs OW in three of the composer’s best-known symphonies: numbers 31 (‘Paris’), 38 (‘Prague’) and 36 (‘Linz’).

Amalia Hall of Orchestra Wellington

Hall has limited experience of directing an orchestra, but it’s not entirely unknown territory.

“I’ve done smaller scale directing before, such as the Vivaldi and Piazzolla Four Seasons with OW last year, and similar projects with the University of Waikato orchestra,” Hall says. “I once directed Mozart Violin Concerto No.5 with the Munich Chamber Orchestra as part of the Joachim competition. Mozart lends itself perfectly to this setup, creating a real chamber music feel to it.”

* There will be six concerts over three weekends. The first concerts take place at 1pm and 3pm, Saturday June 6.


Richard Betts is an award-winning writer and editor. His musings on pop culture, the arts and technology have appeared in numerous publications including the New Zealand Herald, Tone, PC World and Top Gear magazine. Three of those no longer exist but he insists it’s not his fault.

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