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Two orchestras join forces for Wellington

August 10 2004

The Tudor Consort and Gate Seven collaborate on concert of brand new music from home and abroad New works by young New Zealand composers stand tall in concert of new music

THE TUDOR CONSORT WITH GATE SEVEN ORCHESTRA “SEVEN LAST WORDS FROM THE CROSS”: JAMES MACMILLAN WITH NEW COMPOSITIONS BY JACK BODY AND VICTORIA UNIVERSITY HONOURS STUDENTS AND “CANTICLES OF LIGHT”: BOB CHILCOTT

MEDIA RELEASE 10-AUG-2004: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Two of Wellington’s premier performing groups are joining forces to present new compositions by emerging New Zealand composers.

Award-winning chamber choir The Tudor Consort and contemporary instrumental ensemble Gate Seven are collaborating for the premiere performances of brand new works by honours students in composition from Victoria University, along with the first New Zealand performance of James MacMillan’s remarkable 1993 cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross.

This exciting performance of brand new music is on Saturday 21 August at 8pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral and will be recorded live by Concert FM.

Scottish-born MacMillan is “the most exciting young British composer to have emerged in the 1990s” (The Guardian). Seven Last Words, composed in 1993, is a seven-movement cantata for string orchestra and chamber choir. A remarkably beautiful work, it is rich with pathos and emotion.

“Seven Last Words is significant because it is the work that put this young Scottish Catholic on the map as an internationally recognised composer,” says Gate Seven conductor Ewan Clark.

“[This] remarkable cantata … is shocking and consoling, lamenting and uplifting all at once” (The Times [London]).

At the start of the cantata MacMillan limits himself to quite simple musical themes but over the course of the seven-movement work these simple melodies gradually fracture into a vastly more complicated – and much more passionate – palette of sound.

The technique is called “deconstruction” and Victoria University composition students James Dunlop, Antonia Barnett-MacIntosh and Rachel Morgan were assigned a similar challenge by composition tutor Dugal McKinnon: to take simple themes from pieces of early music and to deconstruct these themes to create brand new art works for voices and instruments.

“The composers were asked to write music which would refer to and comment on past musical languages, recontextualizing this material through the lens of the present,” says Clark. “By hearing new works by young emerging composers, the audience gets an exciting glimpse into the future of New Zealand music.”

The pieces feature two visiting instrumentalists playing very unusual instruments: Japanese performer and composer Harada Takashi performing on one of the first invented electronic instruments, the ethereal ondes martenot, and Weeraphong Thaweesak, the crystal-glass virtuoso from Thailand. These two eclectic instruments produce sounds very similar to the singing voice and are used to great effect in the student pieces and in two new pieces composed especially for this programme by Professor Jack Body.

While recognised nationally and internationally for its specialist Renaissance performances, The Tudor Consort is quite at home with the modern repertoire, says the choir’s director, Alastair Carey. “This isn’t the first time The Tudor Consort has performed brand new works by composers based at Victoria University. The choir gave the premier performance of Professor Body’s Five Lullabies in 1992; the recording of that performance won Radio Awards both in New Zealand and in France.”

THE TUDOR CONSORT WITH GATE SEVEN ORCHESTRA “SEVEN LAST WORDS FROM THE CROSS”: JAMES MACMILLAN WITH COMPOSITIONS BY VICTORIA UNIVERSITY HONOURS STUDENTS AND “CANTICLES OF LIGHT”: BOB CHILCOTT

8pm Saturday 21 August 2004 Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hill Street, Wellington $25 / $15 / $7 / Book online at Ticketek Visit http://www.tudor-consort.org.nz

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