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War Forces NZSO Leading Conductor To Cancel tour

War Forces NZSO Leading Conductor To Cancel tour

Franz-Paul Decker, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Conductor Laureate, has withdrawn from his upcoming valedictory tour due to anxieties resulting from the war in Iraq and the threat of the Sars virus.

Currently in Europe, Decker was scheduled to conduct the NZSO in a tour in May in five centres but, on the advice of his family and physician, has withdrawn from his engagement. The NZSO has contracted world-renowned conductor, Christian Gansch, to take over Decker's concerts.

Now in his 80th year, Maestro Decker sent a message to the orchestra, "I was looking forward to my probably [sic] very last visit to my favourite orchestra and this gorgeous country, where I have had this wonderful love-affair since 1966. This war and this new threat, Sars has a terrible influence on the entire globe."

Critically-acclaimed Decker was appointed the NZSO's first Conductor Laureate in 1995. This unique honour recognised his 30-year association as Guest Conductor, Principal Conductor, and Chief Conductor, and his significant influence on orchestral performance in New Zealand. During this time he conducted the orchestra and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in an outstandingly successful concert to celebrate New Zealand Day at the 1992 Seville Expo.

Decker's appointments have included Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Montreal Symphony Orchestras and Chief Conductor of the Orquesta Ciuitat de Barcelona. Last year he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Music by McGill University, Montreal.

NZSO Chief Executive, Peter Walls, said today 'We were all very sorry that Franz-Paul Decker could not be with us for what we had expected would be his last visit to New Zealand. He has had a long and extremely productive relationship with the NZSO. But it has been our enormous good fortune that Christian Gansch was able to take over at such short notice. Maestro Gansch is someone that we had been planning to invite anyway for a future season. He is regarded as a particular authority in German repertoire-so the Wagner and Richard Strauss programmes planned for Dr Decker should suit him perfectly.'

Austrian-born Christian Gansch has been leader of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and a member of the Munich Philharmonic. During this time he studied conducting and went on to work with many European orchestras including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, Netherlands Radio, Munich and Prague Chamber Orchestras as well as being a regular guest conductor of the Russian National Orchestra. He will make his first appearance at the Proms this year with the BBC National Orchestra if Wales, as well as his debut with the Hallé, City of Birmingham and Royal Scottish National Orchestras.

Christian Gansch will conduct the NZSO in seven concerts in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin. This tour is sponsored by The Radio Network.

The programmes for the Wagner concerts with soloists Nadine Secunde (soprano) and Christopher Doig (tenor) are unchanged.

>From the Spanish programme two previously advertised works, Albeniz's Suite Espanola and Montsalvatge's piano work Concierto Breve will be replaced with Ravel's Rhapsody Espagnol, and Falla's rhapsodic Nights in the Gardens of Spain for piano and orchestra with pianist Josep Colom, a specialist in Spanish piano music.

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