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Capital Violinist Meets Shanghai

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10 October 2005

Media release

Capital Violinist Meets Shanghai

Wellington-based violinist, Elena, announced today that she has been invited to perform her tribute to bi-culturalism Elena’s Cultural Symphony at theChina Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) in October 2006.

“It is an enormous honour to represent New Zealand on this international stage. We are particularly proud to be the first New Zealand/ Maori group to perform at this world-class festival. We are excited with the prospect of working with the Shanghai Orchestra and conductor to further support cross-cultural relations between New Zealand and China,” said Elena.

Since 1999, Shanghai has annually held this prestigious month-long arts festival, hosted by the Ministry of Culture. The CSIAF is “a bridge for cultural exchange” and “aims to present the best cultures in the world.” It showcases more than 150 professional performances, which range from classical music, dance, and opera, to acrobatics, magic and drama.

Associate Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon. Judith Tizard said today: “I am delighted that Elena has been invited to attend this prestigious festival and consider her to be an excellent representative of New Zealand.”

The CSIAF President Sheng-lai Chen, in his invitation, said his organization thought Elena’s work was remarkable, particularly Elena’s ability to bring together traditional and modern art forms.

“We are convinced Elena will not only promote the cultural exchanges and co-operation between artists of China and New Zealand, but also further strengthen the friendly relationship between our two countries,” he said.

Elena’s music is renowned in New Zealand for pushing boundaries and her Cultural Symphony is no exception. It represents one Maori woman’s drive to succeed in the European world of classical music and aims to transcend the cultural divide between western music and traditional Maori culture.

The premier performance of the Cultural Symphony in Wellington on 1 October 2004 received rave reviews:

“It was an exhilarating experience that frequently sent shivers down the spine and brought an emotional tear to the eye… an uplifting, magnificent occasion.”
Garth Wilshire, Capital Times.

“Elena’s message was clear and entertainingly presented in this colourful concert.”
Lindis Taylor, The Dominion Post.

“Elena’s concert at the MFC has created a milestone for NZ music.”
Alick Shaw, Deputy Mayor of Wellington.

Background information


Elena is of Ngati Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine descent. She grew up with her grandparents on the Mahia peninsula where she was immersed in Maori culture and waiata before moving to Hastings where her Dutch stepfather introduced her to the violin and classical music. Elena trained with the Schola Musica (the NZSO training group) in Wellington and at Trinity College in London. She is a versatile performer whose music varies from classical to contemporary, embracing Maori, jazz, Irish, gypsy and electric genres along the way. She is a member of the NGC Wellington Sinfonia and works as a freelance professional performer.

Elena first toured China in 1975 with the National Youth Orchestra and again visited in 1998 while touring with the musical Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Maori television just screened a documentary about Elena (September 2005) entitled Pushing the Boundaries describing Elena’s life journey leading to her debut performance of Elena’s Cultural Symphony.

Elena is grateful for the support of Wellington Mayor - Kerry Prendergast, Tom Yuan - International Relations Officer WCC, Boawen Cui - First Secretary (Cultural Attache) Chinese Embassy Wellington, Elevator Ltd, Epic Pictures, Conscious Design and private sponsor Blair Styra.

Elena will be seeking further sponsorship and funding to take her musicans, operatic soloists and kapa haka troupe to Shanghai next year.

The China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) continues to attract the attention of performing arts professionals, media and audiences from all around China and the world.

Previous performers include: The Kirov Ballet, Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, Yo Yo Ma, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil, New York City Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company.


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