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Life Is A Kabarett With The NZSO This Month In Wellington

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s hit Shed Series of concerts returns to Wellington in November to celebrate wonderful music inspired by the flourishing cabaret scene of the 1920s and 30s.

Kabarett features a rare performance of Kurt Weill’s Suite from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, where banjo, bass guitar, saxophone, and more play alongside orchestral instruments. Weill, with librettist Bertolt Brecht, is best known for the latter day hit Mack the Knife, taken from the duo’s Threepenny Opera.

His Suite from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is a stunning arrangement by Wilheim Brückner-Rüggerberg, which captures the essence of Weill and Brecht’s hit 1930 opera which also spawned Alabama Song later covered by The Doors and David Bowie.

Each NZSO Shed Series concert presents a mix of classic and contemporary works in the relaxed setting of Shed 6, where the audience can sit or stand throughout the evening and buy food and drink when they wish. The series is very popular with people new to orchestral music, as well as regular NZSO concertgoers.

“Finally, for the first time since January, the Shed Series is back home in it’s awesome format and with a live audience,” says NZSO Principal Conductor in Residence and Shed Series creator Hamish McKeich.

“We have some incredible music from early in the 20th century, mainly from Germany. Full of wonderful colours helped by some unusual keyboard instruments, saxophones, and a banjo. It’s the sort of music that should be heard more often and sure to delight curious listeners.”

Another magnificent arrangement performed in Kabarett will be Claude Debussy’s orchestration of fellow Frenchman Eric Satie’s timeless and hugely influential Gymnopédies Nos 1 & 3.

Kabarett also features another Brecht collaborator, Austrian composer Hanns Eisler’s sweeping and engrossing Kleine Sinfonie (Little Symphony) from 1932. Eisler’s many achievements include composing music for several Hollywood movies, where he was twice nominated for an Oscar.

Another exceptional work is fellow Austrian Franz Schreker’s Kammersymphonie, written in 1916. The work was considered ahead of its time with Schreker anticipating orchestral music’s wide use in film to this day.

The most recent work in Kabarett will be New Zealand composer Simon Eastwood’s Quanta, written in 2011. This will be the work’s New Zealand premiere, after it was first performed in Britain by the Royal Academy of Music’s Manson Ensemble.

Tickets to Shed Series Kabarett are $35 and available from

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