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World Firsts, Returning Friends and Rarities for APO

World Firsts, Returning Friends and Rarities for APO in 2013

A concert of music and dance celebrating the life of one of New Zealand’s most flamboyant icons, Carmen, embodies a year of innovation, premieres and world-renowned personalities for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO).

The APO unveils a programme of returning stars, new sponsors and New Zealand premieres and rarities at its 2013 season launch, held tonight at Auckland Town Hall.

Songs and Dances of Desire, the world premiere of a significant new work by current Composer-in-Residence Jack Body, is one of two major pieces the APO presents for the Auckland Arts Festival.

It examines issues of identity by celebrating the life and personality of one of our great cultural icons, Trevor Rupe – known to all as Carmen. Described by Body as “a total entertainment” featuring a guitarist, three singers (including countertenor) and dancer, Songs and Dances of Desire promises to be as flamboyant and captivating as its subject.

The second work, presented association with the Auckland Arts Festival, is a closing night performance of Benjamin Britten’s immense War Requiem in the centenary year of the composer’s birth.

“The Auckland Arts Festival is central to the city’s cultural life,” says Barbara Glaser, Chief Executive of the APO. “It’s both a responsibility and a pleasure for the APO to play a key role in the festival, and by presenting one of the great 20th century choral works and a major new piece by our own Composer-in-Residence, we hope to honour that responsibility – and bring pleasure to audiences, too.”

Audiences will also experience the joy of hearing a host of internationally renowned names throughout the APO’s 2013 season.

Major stars returning to Auckland next year include violinist James Ehnes performing the Elgar concerto, and Nikolai Demidenko, who follows his sell-out 2011 concert of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the same composer’s second piano concerto.

“The fact that musicians of this calibre return time and time again underlines the reputation the APO has worked hard to develop,” say Ms Glaser. “James Ehnes and Nikolai Demidenko play all over the world with the finest orchestras, and their eagerness to come back to Auckland affirms the direction the APO has taken in recent years under APO Music Director Eckehard Stier.”

Ehnes’s and Demidenko’s concerts both fall within the APO’s flagship New Zealand Herald Premier Series (formerly the APN News & Media Premier Series). The 2013 Great Classic Series also bears a new name, with Bayleys Real Estate confirming a three-year sponsorship agreement.

“We are delighted to welcome Bayleys to the APO family,” says Ms Glaser. “These concerts are traditionally among our most popular and we look forward to their continued success as the Bayleys Great Classics Series.”

Another sponsor, The Trusts Community Foundation, has added its name to the APO’s Opera in Concert, a highlight of any APO season. In 2013 Eckehard Stier leads the APO in Igor Stravinsky’s neo-classical masterpiece The Rake’s Progress, with New Zealander Paul Whelan taking the role of Nick Shadow. It is the first time the opera has been performed in this country since its 1969 Australasian premiere.

The Rake’s Progress is just one of several rarely performed masterworks presented by the APO in 2013. New Zealand premieres include works by Martinů, Dukas and Korngold among others, as well as Hindemith’s Cello Concerto, with star cellist Johannes Moser.

Playing its customary role in unearthing the star musicians of the future, the APO is the orchestra for the final round of the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition.

The APO continues its proud tradition of supporting New Zealand composers, too, and as well as debuting the new Body work, it gives the world premiere of a new symphony by former APO Composer-in-Residence Ross Harris. Harris’s Symphony No.5 features a mezzo-soprano role taken by Sally-Anne Russell.

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra closes its 2013 season with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, conducted by Eckehard Stier.

Barbara Glaser says it’s the perfect way to end the year. “Not only does the Rite turn 100 in 2013, it’s also a work dear to Eckehard’s heart. That it’s the finest and most famous piece of classical music written in the 20th century is just the icing.”

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