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Crayford and Mozart Face off

Crayford and Mozart Face off

Jonathan Crayford

In an exciting new event, Chamber Music New Zealand (CMNZ), in association in the upcoming NZSO Mozart Festival in Wellington, presents Jonathan Crayford's Mozart Mix, a night of improvisation and composition, taking inspiration from the work of Mozart.

Thanks to the support of an anonymous arts patron, a small ensemble, led by superb improviser Jonathan Crayford on piano, will give two short performances on Saturday 12 August before and after the screening of The Magic Flute at the Embassy Theatre. Both performances are at Blondini's Café and Jazz Lounge, upstairs in the Embassy. Entry is free.

Improvisation was an essential part of the composer’s craft in the 18th century. Now an ensemble led by New Zealand’s master piano improviser, Jonathan Crayford will explore that idea from a 21st century perspective.

“When I was first approached by CMNZ I had quite a major internal battle. I was eager to examine what the task might mean but also reluctant to touch Mozart’s music with a mind to change it. I didn’t want to make jazz versions of Mozart so tunnelled underneath to find something fresh,” Crayford explains.

After studying many of Mozart’s original scores, Crayford began composing his own music in direct response to this process. “I became happy to pull my own music apart which was derived through the process of absorption. It’s a whole different kettle of fish approaching improv from classical roots rather than from jazz. It’s been a whole new learning process.”

Crayford will be joined for this unique concert by baroque soprano Pepe Becker, jazz bassoonist Colin Hemmingsen, experimental jazz double bass player Tom Callwood and percussionist Miguel Fuentes, an Auckland-based Puerto Rican New Yorker.

An improvisation session by a renowned jazz musician such as Jonathan Crayford is a departure from the usual CMNZ line-up, one which Crayford points out is historically appropriate. “My first introduction into CMNZ was a concert in 1991 with Bruno Lawrence when we hosted an evening at the St James, which was then under a demolition order. We brought over from LA bass player Larry Gale who had originally come to New Zealand with Thelonius Monk in 1964. At that time Monk was hosted by the NZ Music Federation (the precursor of CMNZ), a very adventurous step for a classical society.”

“It is historically appropriate for CMNZ to be doing something on the edge. Music has a certain need to be informed and inform of new things", says Jonathan.

CMNZ CEO Euan Murdoch agrees. " Music should surprise and entertain, as well as challenge us as listeners. Events like Mozart Mix are part of our quest to return the buzz to our organisation. " CMNZ CEO Euan Murdoch agrees. " Music should surprise and entertain, as well as challenge us as listeners. Events like Mozart Mix are part of our quest to push peoples expectations of what is possible with chamber music. The limits are boundless and we're happy Jonathan was keen to step outside his comfort zone on this journey"

Saturday 12 August from 7:30pm and 11pm
Blondini’s Café and Jazz Lounge, Embassy Theatre, Wellington



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