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"Life & Love" On The Road

Tuesday 13 April 2004

"Life & Love" On The Road

The internationally acclaimed New Zealand String Quartet brings a diverse and dynamic programme of works to audiences nationwide this April and May, when their "Life & Love" Season takes to the road.

Audiences in Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Wellington and Dunedin will have the opportunity to experience a two-concert programme. While in Waikanae, Tauranga, Rotorua and Christchurch there will be single concert performances. (subs: dates/venues follow).

Spanning an extraordinary range of moods, "Life & Love" presents a musical narration of life's journey - from the exuberence of youth, through the ecstasy of love to the complex emotions created by war, mortality and loss. The programme features a line-up of works by Mozart, Schubert, Shostakovich, Smetana, Berg and Wolf, including several well-known and moving masterpieces.

In Dunedin, Terence Dennis joins the Quartet for Brahms' dramatic piano quartet and Dvorak's vivacious piano quintet. While in Rotorua and Tauranga, the programme includes Gillian Whitehead's "Hine-pu-te-hue" - a work written for String Quartet and Maori instruments performed with Richard Nunns.

""Life & Love" is the start of a busy touring season for the Quartet as we hit the road around New Zealand with this dramatic range of works, thanks to the support of the Turnovsky Endowment Trust," says Quartet Manager, Diana Marsh. "This is the first of several national and international tours planned for 2004, and follows on the heels of our very successful North American tour late last year, which included our New York debut."

Helene Pohl, the New Zealand String Quartet's first violinist explains the Quartet's approach to the choice of works featured in "Life & Love" was inspired by the stories behind them.

"Each composer had a specific story in mind when he was writing, so that each piece is almost a 'mini opera'," she says. "In some cases the narration is obvious, such as "Smetana's "From my Life" which is a recollection of his life experiences, and Berg's "Lyric Suite", which speaks in musical code of his affection for his married lover.

"In others it is more overt, but we know of an external event that prompted the composition. With Shostakovich's quartet, for example, it was the World War II firebombing of Dresden, which led him to dedicate the work to the victims of fascism and war. It was also his musical autobiography quoting many of his works and expressing his feelings about living in a communist regime.”

"String quartets are often considered one of the most abstract forms of musical expression - obviously they have no lyrics to assist the listener with interpretation, and there are four similar instruments performing. The beauty is that the audience can let their imagination roam, which is why we often describe our music as the soundtrack to the listener's inner movie! In this particular series, it is interesting to know the intentions behind the works."

Pohl has a personal connection to one of the pieces featured in the "Life & Love" season. She is able to trace her direct ancestry seven generations back to German poet Matthias Claudius (1740-1815), whose 1814 poem led Schubert to compose what is now regarded as one of his greatest chamber music works, "Death and the Maiden".

"Life & Love" follows the Quartet's 2003 North American tour which included performances in Florida, Washington D.C., Buffalo, the Dutch Antilles and an artist/teaching residence at the Banff Centre, Canada. A highlight of the tour was the Quartet's New York debut at the famous Frick Collection, where they performed works by New Zealand composers, Jack Body and John Psathas alongside Beethoven and Bartok to rave reviews. The Frick Collection Series is considered one of the finest chamber music events in the United States, and over its 60 year history has featured a reputable roster of artists invited to perform there.

The New Zealand String Quartet's 2004 touring season sees them return to North America again in June/July and October, and embark on a nine-centre New Zealand tour with acclaimed European violist Hariolf Schlichtig in August. Already this year they have performed at Wellington's Summer City, the New Zealand International Arts Festival and completed the annual 10-day residential Adam Summer School in Nelson for young musicians throughout the country.


Programme (1): Featuring the works of Wolf, Berg, Shostakovich and Smetana's "From My Life" Programme (2): Featuring the works of Mozart, Berg's "Lyric Suite" and Schubert's well-known "Death and the Maiden"

AUCKLAND : Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, The Edge®: 27, 28 April at 8.00pm (1) Tuesday 27 April ; (2) Wednesday 28 April

HAWKE'S BAY: Tom McDonald Cellar, Church Road Winery, Taradale: 5, 6 May at 7.30pm (1) Wednesday 5 May; (2) Thursday 6 May

WELLINGTON: Hunter Council Chamber, Victoria University: 11 & 13, 18 & 20 May at 8.00pm (1) Tuesday, 11 May and Tuesday 18 May; (2) Thursday, 13 May and Thursday, 20 May

Programme 3 (Dunedin): Featuring the works of Schubert, Berg and Brahms' moving Piano Quartet with Terence Dennis. Programme 4 (Dunedin): Featuring the works of Mozart, Berg and Dvorak's Piano Quartet with Terence Dennis.

DUNEDIN: Marama Hall, Otago University: 25, 26 May at 8.00pm (3) Tuesday 25 May; (4) Wednesday 26 May


Please note: While these concerts feature variations on the "Life & Love" Season programme (above), they are staged in conjunction with the local Chamber Music Society Series.

KAPITI COAST: Memorial Hall, Waikanae : 18 April at 2.30pm Featuring the works of Mozart, Smetana's "From My Life" and Schubert's "Death and the Maiden".

TAURANGA: Baycourt Theatre : 29 April at 7.30pm ROTORUA: Concert Chamber, Rotorua Convention Centre : 30 April at 8.00pm Featuring the works of Mozart, Berg's Opus 3, Smetana's "From My Life" and Gillian Whiteheads' "Hine-pu-te-hue" - a work written for String Quartet and Maori Instruments, performed with Richard Nunns.

CHRISTCHURCH: The Great Hall, Arts Centre : 27 May at 7.30pm Featuring the works of Mozart, Berg's "Lyric Suite" and Schubert's "Death and the Maiden".


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