NZSO springs into winter

RICHARD BETTS previews a clutch of performances by the NZSO next month.


Conductor Gemma New. Pic: Roy Cox

Folks in Auckland and Wellington get a concentration of concerts next month when the NZSO presents three of its most recommendable gigs.

All three boast extremely interesting programming. While July is no one’s idea of spring, the NZSO will nevertheless perform Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring, arguably the greatest and most important classical work of the 20th century (Auckland 3 July, Wellington 10 July).


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Although The Rite’s a ballet, the concert won’t feature dancers. There will, however, be a visual element, provided by creative studio Nocturnal. What’s distinctive about this is that some of the visuals will be created in real-time – the first time the NZSO has done that – and there will be a tracking device on conductor Gemma New’s baton, which will be either very cool or very nauseating, depending on your susceptibility to migraines.

Michael Houstoun. Pic: Robert Catto

The first half of the concert features our premier pianist, Michael Houstoun, performing a selection of Chopin solo pieces. Thanks to interruptions caused by Covid, Houstoun has been on his farewell tour longer than Frank Sinatra, but this is likely to be (one of) the last time(s) you’ll get a chance to see him before his retirement.

At the other end of their careers, the members of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra hit the stage the day after Houstoun and co to play Shostakovich’s wonderful Leningrad Symphony (No.7) and a new work by this year’s NYO composer-in-residence, Ihlara McIndoe.

Gareth Farr’s Matariki

Finally, on 2 July (Auckland) and 9 July (Welly) the old-timers of the NZSO proper premiere a new work by Gareth Farr, the more seasonally appropriate Nga Hihi o Matariki. Details are scant but expect the usual rhythmic vigour from percussionist Farr. Singer Mere Boynton and top taonga puoro practitioner Ariana Tikao act as soloists.


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