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NZSO Concertmaster steps in at eleventh hour for concerto

18 November 2014

NZSO Concertmaster steps in at eleventh hour to perform Violin Concerto

Due to illness, US violinist Stefan Jackiw has regrettably cancelled his Tuscan Summer tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

NZSO Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen will now perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, a gold standard among violin works. It is an extraordinary feat for Vesa to step in at the final hour to perform this challenging concerto around the North Island. Technically fearsome to play, with its dancing themes that won’t settle, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto was instantly popular when it premiered in 1845, and still remains so.

Born and raised in Turku, Finland, Vesa-Matti Leppänen moved to New Zealand in 2000. He was appointed NZSO Concertmaster 11 years ago and has earned national recognition for his musicianship as a chamber musician, teacher, jurist, and soloist. He has performed as a soloist with all the major orchestras in New Zealand. With the NZSO he has performed Sibelius, Lalo, Mozart, Bach concertos and works by leading New Zealand composers.

Internationally, Leppänen has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia, China, Japan, Philippines and Scandinavia. In 2005, he led the NZSO on its European/Japanese Tour and again in 2010 including the unforgettable performance in the Musikverein in Vienna. On both of those tours he was also featured as a soloist. He has worked alongside internationally renowned soloists Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Pinchas Zukerman, and Steven Isserlis and he has also appeared as a guest Concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony and Avanti! Chamber Orchestra.

Tuscan Summer opens with Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville. One of the most loved and best recognised works in the classical/opera repertoire, thanks in part to its use in countless movies, commercials, and even a Bugs Bunny cartoon, it is one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music. Listen to famous Overture theme here

Another great work by Mendelssohn features in this concert series. Mendelssohn was a wide-eyed young traveller new to Italy when he started composing his Symphony No. 4 in A major, commonly known as the Italian. Inspired by the colour and atmosphere of Italy, Mendelssohn wrote his symphony during a prolific tour of Europe when he also composed his Scottish Symphony No. 3 and orchestral overture The Hebrides.

Leading our tour is Japan’s Junichi Hirokami whose impressive reputation precedes him. He is Chief Conductor of the Kyoto Symphony and has guest conducted the Vienna Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw, among other major international orchestras.

In the hands of this acclaimed conductor, Britten’s Soirées Musicales, an orchestral arrangement of piano pieces by Rossini, revels in dance rhythms and demonstrates Britten’s orchestral mastery and tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Later choreographed by one of the 20th century’s most prolific choreographers, George Balanchine, this uplifting work will delight the senses with its lush orchestral colours.

Enjoy our final North Island tour for 2014 and join us in the concert hall for Tuscan Summer, supported by Pub Charity.

NZSO: Tuscan Summer


ROSSINI Barber of Seville Overture
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto
BRITTEN Soirées Musicales (after Rossini)
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 4 ‘Italian’

PALMERSTON NORTH / Regent on Broadway / Thursday 20 November / 7.30 pm

NAPIER / Municipal Theatre / Friday 21 November / 7.00pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

AUCKLAND / Town Hall / Saturday 22 November / 7.30 pm

NEW PLYMOUTH / TSB Showplace / Wednesday 26 November / 7.30 pm

TAURANGA / Baycourt Theatre / Friday 28 November / 7.30pm
TICKETEK / 0800 842 538 / TICKETEK.CO.NZ

ROTORUA / Civic Theatre / Saturday 29 November / 7.30 pm

PRE-CONCERT TALK: NZSO players Bridget Douglas, Lenny Sakofsky and Andrew Thomson will speak at the free pre-concert talks inside the venues, 45 minutes prior to each concert.


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