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Armenian star cellist débuts with NZSO on South Island tour

20 October 2014 - NZSO Media Release for immediate release

Armenian star cellist débuts with NZSO on tour around South Island

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra tours the South Island with two rising stars this November.


Acclaimed Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan and returning Australian conductor Ben Northey join forces for the NZSO’s tour In the Hall of the Mountain King this November.

Virtuoso Narek Hakhnazaryan is a future superstar. Already hailed a "seasoned phenom" by the Washington Post, and praised for his "intense focus and expressive artistry" by theNew York Times, Hakhnazaryan is emerging as one of the most significant young artists on the world stage. Mentored by Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the greatest cellists of the 20thcentury, Narek was the only cellist invited to travel on behalf of Rostropovich Foundation. In 2011 he was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2011 XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, the most prestigious prize given to a cellist. Fittingly, he performs Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme in this debut tour with the NZSO. Watch video >

Tchaikovsky wrote his cello and orchestra piece Variations on a Rococo Theme in homage to Mozart. It’s a beloved staple of the repertoire which puts a cellist through a no-breaks-allowed, high-register ordeal. Composed for German cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, it premiered in Moscow in 1877 with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting. On hearing it, Liszt reportedly declared “This is truly music!”

The concert opens with a popular symphony by Tchaikovsky’s role model Mozart. Symphony No. 31 was composed in the French capital as a crowd-pleasing showstopper for the people of Paris, hence its nickname ‘Paris’. In this popular work, Mozart used an unusually large number of instruments for its day and the clarinet, the exciting new instrument of the day, made its first appearance in a Mozart symphony. Playful, elegant and full of musical surprises, the ‘Paris’ Symphony is a testament to Mozart’s precocious style.

We welcome conductor Ben Northey back to New Zealand to conduct the NZSO in this exciting programme. In February, he led the NZSO National Youth Orchestra concerts in both Wellington and Napier and he led the NZSO-SOUNZ Readings recordings in 2009. A graduate of the Sibelius Academy in Finland, he has been the Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2011. He begins as Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra next season.

Completing the programme are two works by Grieg. The famous Norwegian composer’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 boasts some of the most beloved music in the orchestral repertoire. Its bubbly, recognisable melodies lead the listener through exotic lands and into the terrifying hall of the Mountain King himself. Versions of its short orchestral pieces - Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King, have appeared in movies, pop songs, advertisements, video games, and rap. The song was even used in a peanut butter advert in Britain, in which the phrase "yum" was set to the music. Watch NZSO video and hear music >

Although not as well known as the Peer Gynt Suite, Grieg’s charming Holberg Suite is praised by music critics world wide. Composed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Danish-Norwegian humanist playwright Ludvig Holberg, this superb collection of 18th century dances drifts dreamily between baroque and modernist styles, completing a concert that celebrates the shifting boundaries between fantasy and reality.

Enjoy this showcase of much-loved works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Grieg and appreciate the talents of two rising stars in the classical music world.

Join us in our final South Island tour for 2014 - In the Hall of the Mountain King.

ENDS


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