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Michael Houstoun Steps In This Month For Rachmaninoff Season Opener

New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun

Orchestra Wellington has overcome the global lockdown to perform the opening concert of its 2020 Rachmaninoff season, thanks to the early return of beloved New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun.

With closed borders forcing Tony Chen Lin to cancel his performance of Rachmaninoff’s fourth piano concerto, Houstoun has come to the party to play the Russian master’s even more popular third concerto instead.

Arguably the most loved concerto in the entire romantic repertoire, the music will give Houstoun plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his skill and musicianship.

The season opener with Houstoun playing Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 and a thrilling Tchaikovsky symphony under the baton of Marc Taddei is on Saturday 25th July at the Michael Fowler Centre.

Orchestra Wellington will round off its first Michael Fowler Centre concert of 2020 with the Manfred Symphony of Rachmaninoff’s teacher and mentor, Pytor Tchaikovsky.

Inspired by a dramatic Lord Byron poem, Manfred depicts the psychological and physical journey of a lost soul, wandering the Alps, tormented by guilt and memories of his dead lover.

Byron wrote the poem in Switzerland after scandal forced him to flee England. Tchaikovsky wrote his Manfred between his fourth and fifth symphonies.

The music was some of the most original he wrote, but its technical challenges, mean it’s not performed as often as Tchaikovsky’s other mature symphonies.

Fans of big tunes and rich harmonies will be pleased to hear all six Rachmaninoff subscription concerts in Orchestra Wellington’s 2020 Great Romantic Season are going ahead on July 25th, August 22nd, September 12th, October 3rd, October 17th and December 5th.

The orchestra’s musicians have been keeping busy following the lockdown with six acclaimed and sold-out performances of Amalia & Friends. Another new venture, Classical on Cuba, brought live music back to the Cuba precinct recently with a series of chamber concerts in restaurants and bars.

© Scoop Media

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