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Hammers & Horsehair Tours Nationwide with Candlelit Concerts

Have Piano, Will Travel - Hammers & Horsehair Tours Nationwide with Candlelit Concerts

Hammers & Horsehair, a group comprising three well-known Wellington-based musicians, Douglas Mews (square piano), Rowena Simpson (soprano) and Robert Ibell (cello), will present a rich and varied programme of Romantic music from the first half of the Nineteenth Century in intimate, candlelit concerts in twenty centres around New Zealand beginning in April.

They begin in Greytown on 22 April and finish in Wellington on 25 October. The group’s travels will take them from Kerikeri and Rawene in Northland to as far south as Dunedin. Their tour is supported by Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and follows on from a similar popular tour in 2016.

Three beautiful but rarely heard songs by Bohemian composer Jan Kalivoda and Schubert’s famous ‘Shepherd on the Rock’ frame the programme. In between are excerpts from Schumann’s evocative ‘Scenes from Childhood’, two special Lieder by Schubert and one of the best-loved sonatas for piano and cello, Beethoven’s Sonata in A major Op 69.

The musical pieces will be linked by short readings that reflect the era or the mood of the music and the contribution of German-speaking immigrants to life in New Zealand.

"We want the audience to feel like we're entertaining them in their living room at home. They'll be sitting close to us, and we'll chat with them during the show,” said Douglas. "The old instruments and performing style we use will allow people to hear the music much as it would have been heard by audiences when it was written two hundred years ago."

As in their earlier tour, Hammers & Horsehair will use period instruments: a Broadwood square piano made in 1843 and an Eighteenth Century Italian cello by an unknown maker.

Tour itinerary

Greytown - Sunday 22 April, 4pm

Kerikeri - Thursday 26 April, 7:30pm

South Hokianga - Friday 27 April, time TBC

Auckland - Saturday 28 April, 7:30pm

Te Awamutu - Sunday 29 April, 7:30pm

Clevedon - Monday 30 April, 7:30pm

Whangamata - Tuesday 1 May, 7:30pm

Coromandel - Thursday 3 May, 7:30pm

Whakatane - Friday 4 May, 7:30pm

Putaruru - Saturday 5 May, 2:30pm

Palmerston North - Sunday 6 May, 7pm

Rotorua - Monday 2 July, 7:30pm

Hastings - Tuesday 3 July, 7:30pm

Dunedin - Tuesday 16 October, 7:30pm

Timaru - Wednesday 17 October, 7:30pm

Oamaru - Thursday 18 October, 7pm

Rangiora - Friday 19 October, 7:30pm

Christchurch - Saturday 20 October, 4pm

Picton - Sunday 21 October, 3pm

Wellington - Thursday 25 October, 7:30pm

Tour programme

Kalivoda – Three Songs for Soprano, Piano & Cello Op. 91
Beethoven – Sonata in A major Op. 69 for Piano & Cello
Schumann – ‘Scenes from Childhood’ for Piano Op. 15
Schubert – ‘Suleika No 1’ D720 & ‘Im Haine’ D738 for Soprano & Piano
Schubert – ‘Shepherd on the Rock’ D965 for Soprano, Cello & Piano

Biographical notes

Hammers & Horsehair is a square piano and cello duo formed by Douglas Mews and Robert Ibell in 2015. Their goal is to introduce New Zealanders to the experience of early nineteenth century European classical music played on period instruments in an intimate setting. In 2016 they made a very successful concert tour of 20 centres around New Zealand.

Robert Ibell was born in Dannevirke and brought up in Palmerston North. While training there as a school teacher he learned cello from Judith Hyatt in Wellington. From 1986 to 1992 Robert lived in London, studying cello with Tania Hunt, Derek Simpson and Christopher Bunting. He played at music schools and in masterclasses, taught, gave recitals and played in professional and amateur orchestras. Since 1993 Robert has been a member of the NZSO. He is also an experienced chamber musician, touring regularly for Chamber Music NZ. Robert has been a member of the Aroha Quartet since 2009. He also plays in contemporary music group Stroma New Music Ensemble and is a Recording Artist for Radio NZ Concert.

Douglas Mews studied organ and harpsichord with the late Anthony Jennings at Auckland University (New Zealand) followed by harpsichord studies with Bob van Asperen at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague. He is now a freelance musician, teaching at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington and directing the music at St Teresa's Catholic Church. In January 2018 he performed on nineteenth century organs at the ‘Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival’ In these concerts Douglas will perform on a square piano made by Broadwood in 1843, brought from the Shetland Islands to Wellington in the 1870s by Robert Tait.

Rowena Simpson grew up in Wellington, Hamilton and London and began her performing career as a cellist, chorister and dancer. She studied singing with German soprano Rosemary Gordon and graduated with degrees in musicology and linguistics from Victoria University before leaving for The Netherlands in 1997, where she studied singing and historical performance practice at the Royal Conservatoire. While based in Europe, she performed with professional chamber ensembles and was a soloist in the baroque and classical repertoires. Since returning to NZ in 2006, Rowena has developed a freelance career in chamber music and opera, performing for many organisations including Chamber Music NZ (Barocca & Tōku Ao), Stroma New Music Ensemble, NZ Barok, CBS Music Trust, Pinchgut Opera (Sydney), Days Bay Opera and as a member of the NZ Opera chorus.


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