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Lines from the Nile: Weddings and Wars in Aro Valley

Weddings and Wars in Aro Valley

A 170 year old English piano has been the inspiration for Lines from the Nile in the 2014 Wellington Fringe Festival. The Broadwood piano has been a resident of Aro Valley through several generations and is currently housed in the home of Douglas Mews on Essex Street. The show is a soirée of music by Joseph Haydn and Daniel Steibelt, celebrating the heyday of the British Navy and the wedding between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with a script written and directed by Jacqueline Coats.

Royal weddings are popular events with Kiwis, but newspaper articles about Queen Victoria’s marriage on the 10th February 1840 only reached New Zealand five months later. During her wedding preparations, you might wonder how much thought the young queen spared for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. She probably had to wait several months for news of it to reach Britain.

The expansion of the British Empire across the globe during Victoria’s reign was made possible by the defeat of Napoleonic France in which the British Navy played a major role. “One of the navy’s greatest victories was at the Battle of the Nile” says Douglas, “and Haydn was among many artists to commemorate this event with his piece Lines from the Battle of the Nile. He also wrote songs and sonatas for his English friends which sound wonderful on this old piano, and that is how the idea began.”

Douglas and fellow performer Rowena Simpson have selected their favourite pieces for the one hour show which started out as an ordinary concert. “Leimomi Oakes made an 1840s dress to go with the piano and we performed it in August and October 2013. Then we asked Jacqueline to use her fantastic talents to create a theatrical context for the music especially for this Fringe Festival,” explains Rowena.

Jacqueline, Rowena and Douglas’ last Fringe Festival success was Home, which premiered in 2010 and has since toured to 17 centres nationwide. “Home was a more serious show. With Lines from the Nile, we aim to have some fun and indulge in a little British flag waving”, says Rowena, "We hope the audience will come dressed in their best 1840s costumes!"

Feedback about Lines from the Nile
“I never expected to laugh in a classical music concert” – audience member, 24 August 2013

“Parlor concerts are wonderful, because experiencing live classical music in such a small, intimate setting is a very different experience to a large concert hall. This one in particular felt as if I was attending a party in the 1840s where the musical celebrity guests did an impromptu performance.” – Leimomi Oakes, 24 August 2013,

Feedback about Home:
Jacqueline Coats’ script is well researched, well-judged at every moment and really allows the songs to shine. They are also beautifully performed.” - Michael Gilchrist, 4 November 2012,

“Sweet: This has to be Simpson's clear bell like voice and excellent diction. Like a bellbird she sings to the rafters but brings an intensity of emotion to her songs… More than a nod to pianist and ‘Skinny-malinky' Douglas Mews, who plays beautifully.” - Kirsty van Rijk, 9 November 2012,

Event: Lines from the Nile
Time and Dates: 8.00pm, Thurs 13 Feb to Sun 16 Feb and Thurs 20 Feb to Sun 23 Feb, 2014
Venue: 1 Essex Street
Tickets: $20 Full, $15 Concession, $12 Fringe Addicts

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