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‘Genius’ pianist visits New Zealand

‘Genius’ pianist visits New Zealand

The first classical musician to win the $500,000 MacArthur ‘genius’ grant, Stephen Hough visits New Zealand for recitals in Wellington and Auckland this month.

An acclaimed pianist in orchestral, chamber music and recital settings, in 2001 Stephen was the first classical musician to win a coveted MacArthur “genius grant”. The $500,000 grant is awarded to individuals who show extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and encourages people to pursue their personal, creative, intellectual and professional ideas.

Other ‘geniuses’ include art and cultural advocates Osvaldo Golijov (classical composer), Angela Johnson (children’s novelist and poet), Lydia Davis (short story writer) and Korinne Dufka (human rights champion).

Featured in TIME magazine after his win in 2001, Stephen was described as “a totally unsnobby egghead who just happens to have a luminous, enveloping warm tone and enough technique for any two ordinary pianists.”

In New Zealand to play with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Stephen will also perform two piano recitals for Chamber Music New Zealand, on Thursday 23 September in Wellington and Friday 24 September in Auckland.

About Stephen Hough

Stephen’s initial interest in music was self-motivated. With no classical upbringing in his childhood, he became fascinated with his friends’ pianos, playing the tunes of nursery rhymes. He begged his parents to buy him a piano; eventually they relented when they found a bargain - his first piano cost five pounds.

Stephen’s first piano teacher used to find him memorising pieces before the lesson had ended. He fondly remembers her as rather like a Roald Dahl character - a blue fiat 500 driving, “ferocious orange lipstick” wearing woman.

The rest as they say is history. Since those early days, Stephen has performed in recital at Carnegie Hall and The Louvre, made more than 30 critically praised recordings and appeared with major international orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

Alongside piano playing, Stephen’s other great love is reading (serious fiction, classics and great modern works, poetry, biographies, social history, theology) and writing. His own work includes poetry, short stories and music. He has also written a poem especially for his New Zealand tour, New Zealand Fire. [see below]

Recitals with Stephen Hough

Stephen was last in New Zealand in 2002 when he toured with cellist Steven Isserlis for CMNZ (Isserlis has just recently completed dates with the NZSO).

His CMNZ recital programme will start in a Viennese mood with sonatas by Berg and Schubert, followed by the lyrical beauty of Debussy and Ravel and will finish with fun and flash from some Spanish pieces.

Tickets $50 A reserve, $40 B reserve, concession prices from $15. Book at Ticketek, service fees apply. For more information visit or ph 0800 CONCERT (266 2378).

Chamber Music New Zealand acknowledges major funding from Creative New Zealand.

Stephen Hough is presented in recital by Chamber Music New Zealand. For media enquiries please contact Communications Coordinator Rachel Service, ph (04) 384 6133 or email

Stephen Hough

Zeal, a fire, is Always new; burning Centre outwards, fanning Tongues in singeing choirs of Flame up lofted chimneys.

Yet zeal, a fire, can Also welcome; warm arms Folding inwards, enclosing ‘Round whispering coals in the Hearth at journey’s end.

Ten thousand miles (and years), and Home.

27th August 2004

Wellington, Thursday 23 September, 8pm Wellington Town Hall

Auckland, Friday 24 September, 8pm Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall

Programme BERG Sonata SCHUBERT Sonata in G major GRANADOS Valses Poeticas ALBENIZ Evocation & Triana (Iberia) DEBUSSY Interrupted Serenade & Soirees dans Granada RAVEL Alborada del Gracioso ALBENIZ/GODOWSKY Tango MOSKOWSKI Caprice Espangnol

STEPHEN HOUGH IN CONCERT WITH THE NEW ZEALAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Feat. Yan Pascal Tortelier conductor, Stephen Hough piano

Palmerston North, Wednesday 15 September, 8pm Regent On Broadway

Hamilton, Thursday 16 September, 8pm Founders Theatre

Auckland, Friday 17 September, 6.30pm Auckland Town Hall

Wellington, Sunday 19 September, 6.30pm Michael Fowler Centre

Christchurch, Tuesday 21 September, 8 pm Town Hall

Programme BERLIOZ Les Franc-Juges - Overture SAINT SAENS Piano Concerto No 4 TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 ‘Pathétique’

Tickets from $20, book at Ticketek, service fees apply.


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