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Voyaging through modern chamber music

Concert: The New Yorker's Alex Ross voyaging through modern chamber music

Best-selling author and The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross is touring New Zealand this May with Chamber Music New Zealand, in a concert promising to open anyone's ears. Sharing the stage with our very own STROMA and mezzo-soprano Bianca Andrew, the concert offers a musical tasting session to accompany Alex Ross's hugely successful book The Rest is Noise.

"When The Rest is Noise appeared in 2007 it was on everybody’s (not just music lovers’) must-read lists. It is easy to understand why," says Peter Walls, Chief Executive, Chamber Music New Zealand. In the music and literary worlds Alex Ross is rather a big deal. His first book, The Rest is Noise won a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Guardian First Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Discussing music from Bartók to Björk, Shoenberg to The Velvet Underground, the book performs the remarkable trick of tying musical threads together and transforming occasionally abstruse music into something accessible - and exciting. It provides not so much a history of 20th century music as a history of the 20th century through its music" describes Ross.

And the concert? Bringing together the music and literary worlds offers a unique opportunity to experience what history sounded like, in its context. Describing the music line-up as ‘diverse’ doesn’t quite hack it, taking inspiration from the World War II jazz of Benny Goodman, the words of Martin Luther King and Shakespeare, to mathematical game theory and childhood experience. The premier of one work even resulted in the composer threatened with being shot! This concert promises some of the most intriguing and beautiful compositions of the 20th century.

"The STROMA tour with Bianca Andrew contains music that is both seen as important and challenging. I can think of no better way with this repertoire than to have it illuminated for us by Alex Ross" says Walls.

The national tour visits 8 centres throughout Aotearoa, with the Auckland concert presented in partnership with the Auckland Writers Festival.

Audio described concerts: Auckland, New Plymouth and Wellington concerts will also be audio described for patrons with low vision. It is a narration service that attempts to describe what the sighted person takes for granted. Each audio described concert will also feature a touch tour on stage beforehand.

"Just as Alex Ross's book provides an entertaining and illuminating peregrination through the history of modern classical music, so this concert will provide the soundtrack. It promises to be a veritable smorgasbord of delight upon delight, and everyone is bound to make some new favourites." STROMA's Co-Director Michael Norris

For details and booking information visit


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  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland