APO Launches 2014 Season

Joanna MacGregor
Joanna MacGregor
INTERNATIONAL STARS, AN operatic masterpiece and a new Composer-in-Residence are some of the highlights of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2014 season, announced tonight.

Among a world-class selection of musicians visiting the APO for the first time is pianist Joanna MacGregor. Known for her daring repertoire choices, Ms MacGregor, who is head of piano at the Royal Academy of Music and was awarded an OBE in 2012, performs Messiaen’s ‘Oiseaux Exotiques’ in March for the third of the APO’s flagship New Zealand Herald Premier Series concerts.

Also appearing in that series is conductor Paul McCreesh. Mr McCreesh is the artistic director of The Gabrieli Consort and Players, with which he has won numerous prizes, including most recently the ‘Early Music’ category in the 2013 Gramophone Awards.

Among 2014’s other major attractions are two former prodigies who have gone on to take the music world by storm. Violinist Chloë Hanslip was, at 13, the youngest musician ever to sign to the Warner Classics label. She makes her APO debut with the New Zealand premiere of John Corigliano’s ‘Red Violin’ Concerto. Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov won the London Piano Competition in 2009 at just 18, and is now one of the most sought after musicians on the concert circuit. He plays Beethoven’s epic ‘Emperor’ Concerto in the first of next season’s Bayleys Great Classics series concerts.

As well as artists making their first visits here, the APO is delighted to welcome back many returning friends including percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who plays View from Olympus by former APO Composer-in-Residence John Psathas, and soprano Christine Brewer. Conductor Stephen Layton is on the podium for the APO’s annual Choral Masterpieces concert, which in 2014 is Bach’s St John Passion. Mr Layton performs the Passion in London every Easter, and he is widely regarded as the work’s leading interpreter.

The Adults
The Adults
Stars from closer to home include rock supergroup The Adults, featuring Jon Toogood (Shihad), Julia Deans (Fur Patrol) and alternative music legend Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) with special guests Anika Moa and Ladi6. The Adults Meet the APO is the first concert of 2014. There is no word as to whether Carter’s much-anticipated classically influenced piano-based project will be incorporated.

Barbara Glaser, Chief Executive of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, says she is excited by the calibre of musicians performing with the APO next season.

“Without a doubt, 2014 represents the strongest line-up of guest artists we’ve ever assembled. It is a credit to the reputation the APO has forged over the last few years under Music Director Eckehard Stier that musicians of this stature not only travel to New Zealand, but return here to perform with us again and again.”

A highlight of any concert season is the Trusts Community Foundation Opera in Concert. In 2014 the APO is proud to present Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

“As well as containing some of Wagner’s most beautiful writing, Tristan is incredibly influential in the development of Western music,” says Barbara Glaser. “We are delighted to have engaged a cast of Wagner specialists, including, in the title roles, Lars Cleveman and Annalena Persson, both of whom have sung at Bayreuth.”

The 19 July concert marks the New Zealand debut of the full Tristan und Isolde; it is just one of several works never played here before.

Among the others is a new piece by Ross Harris, Aria for Viola and String Orchestra, written for APO Section Principal Viola Robert Ashworth. Mr Harris is another former APO Composer-in-Residence, and Barbara Glaser chose tonight to announce the orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence for 2014/15: Kenneth Young.

One of New Zealand’s leading musical figures, Kenneth Young’s work has been performed numerous times at home and internationally. A former Principal Tuba with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Mr Young is also in demand as a conductor. He lectures in conducting and orchestration at the New Zealand School of Music (NZSM).

“The Composer-in-Residence helps set the artistic compass of the organisation, and in Kenneth Young we have selected one of the country’s most gifted musicians,” says Barbara Glaser. “We have a long and cherished association with Ken, and his abilities as not only a composer but also a conductor, performing musician and educator make him an ideal appointment. I look forward to the next two years with a keen sense of anticipation.”

As well as composing his own music, Mr Young’s residency enables him to mentor the next generation of New Zealand composers through the APO’s education and community programme, APO Connecting.

Kenneth Young says: “I am genuinely thrilled and excited at the prospect of what the residency offers. To be free to sit at my studio desk and simply write on a regular basis is something I am grateful for. My love of teaching, which has developed from my work at the NZSM, means that I also look forward to the broad range of educational activities with which I will be involved.”

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