NZSO programme a hit


FEATURING a world premiere and some of the most beloved pieces of classical music, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s (NZSO) latest concert programme is proving to be a hit with audiences.

The NZSO is on tour this month and will perform Classical Hits in Invercargill on Saturday, September 22.

Associate conductor Hamish McKeich said the tour was going well so far, with audiences very responsive to the programme.

“It’s a very nice one, there’s some very famous pieces in there… It’s a nice mix – quite romantic and classical.”

McKeich said the orchestra would also perform a new work by acclaimed New Zealand composer Gillian Whitehead.

The work, Turanga-nui, was part of a set of commissions from the NZSO to mark the 250th anniversary in 2019 of Captain James Cook’s arrival in New Zealand and his meetings with Maori.

He said Whitehead’s composition dealt with the landing in the Gisborne area and how the cultural misunderstandings became tragic for the iwi living there.

“She hasn’t written the piece with a particular story, but she’s used certain sounds from the orchestra that will invoke the area.

“It’s not telling a linear story from beginning to end, but it’s sort of snippets and gives you a mood and flavour of what the story was about.”

For example, the central part of the work represented conflict, he said, so it was quite loud and abrasive, with lots of drums.

“It’s a wonderful piece.”

The new work will be played alongside an assortment of popular works from some of the great composers – Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

McKeich said it would be a good programme for both those familiar with classical music and those who were relatively new to the genre.

“We’ll guide you through all the pieces as we play them. If you haven’t been to an orchestra before, it’s a really good start.”

McKeich said Schubert’s Unfinished Symphonywas a very famous work, however it hadn’t been played that often in New Zealand.

“If you haven’t heard it before I’ll explain a little bit when the concert happens about the piece of music and where it lies in the history and you can sit back and enjoy the music, [which is] very melodic and beautiful.”

Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme was the composer’s most famous work for cello and it would feature guest soloist Andrew Joyce, who is the NZSO’s principal cellist.

McKeich said they would finish the programme with the Russian composer’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, which was popular with audiences.

“He condenses the story into a small 18-minute piece of music. It’s very melodic and has a huge romantic score.”

McKeich encouraged Southlanders to go along and enjoy the music.

“Come with open ears and enjoy [yourselves] – we’ll make sure that’ll happen.”

Classical Hits, Civic Theatre, Invercargill, Saturday, September 22, 7.30pm. Book at TicketDirect

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