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THE Modern Maori Quartet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) are throwing a party and the good news is we’re all invited.

Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau, James Tito and Francis Kora are touring with the NZSO for the first time this summer and will perform new arrangements of showband and pop hits in English and Te Reo Maori.

Summer Pops will be performed at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill on Wednesday, March 1.

Pohatu said while summer would be the over-riding theme of the concert, they had also structured the show so it would feel like a house party.

“Each of the items that we perform will be like movements through different stages of a party,” he said.

“It’s got a narrative, it’s got a story with it that will take the audience on a bit of a journey.”

Pohatu said he and his bandmates were inspired by showbands such as the Howard Morrison Quartet and the Hi-Marks, and also by the house parties they grew up with.

“That’s the environment we all grew up in as children and as young men and that’s kind of how we came together as a group.”

Also included in the programme are original songs written by the quartet, with arrangements by seven New Zealand composers.

Pohatu said they had been busy writing for a new album, which would be released sometime this year or next.

However, there would still be several of the old favourites, along with popular medleys.

“It’s not a party without Ten Guitars, but the orchestra version without many guitars,” he joked.

The quartet has been performing together for almost five years. All members attended Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School and knew of each other in the industry, he said. “It came about because we kept meeting each other at different parties and we were the same ones in the corner singing together.”

While it was originally a way to support themselves between acting gigs, the quartet’s success has meant it’s now the other way around.

“I don’t think any of us anticipated that it was going to happen quite so fast but we always had an idea that we wanted to build it into something sustainable,” he said.

“It’s something we love doing… and I’m so stoked get to work with the symphony orchestra, it’s mind blowing.”

NZSO associate conductor Hamish McKeich said combining the distinct musical genres of the orchestra and the quartet was an exciting challenge and he looked forward to sharing the results with audiences throughout the country.

“Incorporating the quartet’s wit and singing with all the colour of an orchestra should provide a great vehicle for making some magic happen on stage. Will we succeed? Come and find out.”

Tickets are available from TicketDirect and the Invercargill City Council booking office.

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