The NZSO plays the hits for its biggest tour of the year
9 August 2018
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will travel the length of the country in September to perform some of the most popular and beloved works of classical music.
Classical Hits, coming to 11 centres from Kerikeri to Invercargill, will be the NZSO’s biggest tour of 2018. Each concert features some of the best-known music by the great composers Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, as well as the world premiere of a new work by acclaimed New Zealand composer Gillian Whitehead.
The selection has been especially chosen to appeal to both regular concert goers and those new to seeing the national orchestra perform live.
Schubert’s instantly recognisable Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished Symphony’, Debussy’s haunting Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune, Tchaikovsky’s mesmerising Variations on a Rococo Theme and his magnificent Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture are perpetual audience favourites. These sublime works are often used in movies and television, so will be familiar to many people seeing the NZSO in concert for the first time.
Classical Hits will be conducted by NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, who earlier this year conducted the Orchestra for its sold-out and critically acclaimed performances of Star Wars: A New Hope in the New Zealand Festival.
The guest soloist will be the NZSO’s very own Principal Cellist Andrew Joyce, who will play Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, the composer’s most famous work for cello.
“Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations is a real thrill, both to play and to listen to and I’m super-excited to be touring this piece all around the country with my wonderful friends and colleagues of the NZSO,” says Joyce.
Gillian Whitehead’s new work Turanga-nui has been written to mark the 250th anniversary in 2019 of Captain James Cook’s arrival in New Zealand and his meetings with Māori. It is the third NZSO commission in 2018 to mark the anniversary. Earlier this year the NZSO performed Tupaia by Salina Fisher and He iwi tahi tātou by Gareth Farr.
McKeich says one of the aims of the NZSO is to play orchestral music to as many New Zealanders as possible. By bringing Classical Hits to Gisborne, Auckland, Kerikeri, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin and Invercargill, more New Zealanders will have the opportunity to enjoy their national orchestra live.
“Travelling the full length of the country, playing a selection of masterpieces, with Andrew Joyce as soloist and with a brand-new New Zealand work, is something that I’m very much looking forward to,” McKeich says.
“The works we’re going to play are also important in the history of music. Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’ is superb, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is exquisite and Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune is like an Impressionist painting. At the same time, I’m delighted we can introduce New Zealanders to new music. Gillian Whitehead’s new work will also conjure up amazing sounds.”
The Classical Hits tour begins in Gisborne on 6 September and finishes in Invercargill on 22 September.