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O’Neill And Fox Collaborate In Wagnerian Jazz

New Zealand’s finest tenor and jazz band leader will showcase their talents in an exclusive North Island tour next month.

Simon O’Neill with the Rodger Fox Big Band will premiere new arrangements of arias from Wagner’s Ring Cycle and complete the programme with Puccini’s superb, Nessun Dorma.

The ground-breaking concert will unite one of the finest tenors on the international stage in a format that takes Wagner out of the Opera House and into the world of big band jazz.

The tour begins in Palmerston North on October 21, followed by Wellington (October 22), Hamilton (October 24) and Bruce Mason Theatre, Auckland (October 25).

Simon O’Neill, who was born in Ashburton, has performed in the great opera houses and concert halls of the world including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala, Berlin, Hamburg and Bayerische Staatopera and at the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh and the BBC Proms Festivals.

He has appeared with such luminary conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Pietari Inkinen and Sir Mark Elder. Simon faced a full schedule of Wagnerian operas in England, Europe and the United States in 2020 but has chosen to remain in New Zealand because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simon has been awarded the ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit), he holds a honorary Doctor of Music from Victoria University and is an alumnus of the University of Otago, the Manhattan School of Music and the Julliard Opera Centre.

Rodger Fox is delighted Simon has agreed to this trailblazing series of concerts and has scheduled Palmerston North as the first venue where the joint talents of two New Zealand legends will be displayed. Concerts in Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland will follow.

“Simon is an outstanding New Zealand musician and is hugely supportive of blending the best of opera with some of the finest big band arrangements,” Rodger says. “The arrangers, a who’s who of jazz and popular music, include Matt Harris, Bill Cunliffe and Francisco Torres.”

Rodger Fox, ONZM, is a supreme jazz trombonist, and has led the Rodger Fox Big Band for more than 40 years. He has performed in concert with some of the biggest names in jazz and the entertainment world including Randy Crawford, Diane Schuur, Kurt Elling, Bruce Paulson, Arturo Sandoval, The Four Tops – Temptations, Holly Hofmann and Kevin Mahogany.

Rodger has won five Tui awards for New Zealand Jazz Recordings of the Year and received nine further nominations.

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