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Blasting Off With Orchestra Wellington

17 November 2016

Blasting Off With Orchestra Wellington

Orchestra Wellington's final mission for 2016 will take you to Mars and beyond with help from the Carter Observatory.

The orchestra will perform Holst’s ever popular Planets Suite in a multimedia show accompanied by stunning images from the observatory’s Space Place.

Space Place curator Dr Claire Bretherton assembled the images in accord with the astrological character Holst gave each planet. “So for Saturn, “bringer of old age”, I chose images that rotate and repeat, reflecting the cyclical nature of Time,” Bretherton says.

“For Uranus, the Magician, I showed it through different wavelengths as we approach, so its colours transform, to suggest the magician. For Mercury, the Winged Messenger, we fly over its surface.”

The concert’s strong visual aspect begins with composer-in-residence David Long’s “I’ll Hum the First Few Bars”, an original work for small orchestra, guitar and two electro-mechanical instruments performing alongside the orchestra.

The performance is accompanied by visuals from composer David Downes. The electro-mechanical instruments have been created by Victoria University robotics whizz, Jim Murphy.

Brilliant young New Zealand violinist Amalia Hall advanced to the semifinals of the 15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poland in October. Hall returns home to play a new work by composer Claire Cowan.

Cowan’s violin concerto is highly visual too, with soloist Hall elevated on a platform above the stage, enhanced by theatrical lighting, painted gold and wearing a golden costume created by WOW designer Elizabeth Whiting.

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Claire says her concerto is based on the idea of “starkness”, a word with many different meanings.

“It’s also inspired loosely by Freda Stark, an exotic dancer from the 1940's who danced in Auckland’s Civic Theatre during WWII.”

Freda Stark would often dance wearing nothing more than a g-string, gold paint and some feathers. Much of Amalia Hall’s costume is also designed to be sloughed off as her performance progresses.

The Planets concert on December 3rd at the Michael Fowler Centre is conducted by Music Director Marc Taddei.


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