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NZSO Celebrates Matariki And More With Exciting Winter Festival

Pianiist Michael Houstoun. Photo credit: Robert Catto

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra presents a winter feast of extraordinary music in July, including three innovative back-to-back concerts in Auckland and Wellington, as part of its Immerse 2021 festival.

The festival features the world premiere of Ngā Hihi o Matariki, a unique musical celebration of Matariki. Performances of Igor Stravinsky’s groundbreaking masterpiece The Rite of Spring and Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic ‘Leningrad’ symphony, will be multimedia experiences, with each performance also featuring immersive real-time visuals from leading creative studio Nocturnal.

Matariki and The Rite of Spring, in association with New Zealand Listener, and NYO Leningrad in association with the Adam Foundation, are performed in Auckland 2-4 July and Wellington 9-11 July.

For each concert, the NZSO will be led by renowned New Zealand conductor Gemma New, recently profiled in The New York Times as one of a select group of young and talented conductors to watch.

Gareth Farr, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading composers, has partnered with two exceptional artists for Ngā Hihi o Matariki. Mere Boynton and Ariana Tikao have written the kupu and will join the Orchestra as the soloists for this unforgettable concert experience. Each have contributed Reo oro and Ariana will perform her own compositional elements on Taonga Pūoro.

Composer Gareth Farr, Mere Boynton, Ariana Tikao. Photo credit: NZSO Matariki

For Matariki in Auckland and Wellington, the NZSO has made available 100 free tickets for groups and organisations who want to experience the Orchestra for the first time.

Acclaimed pianist Michael Houstoun will open The Rite of Spring with a selection of sublime works for piano by Chopin. This year marks 50 years since Michael began playing with the NZSO.

Stravinsky’s groundbreaking The Rite of Spring, which premiered in 1913 as a ballet with legendary choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, is one of the great composer’s best-known and loved works.

Shostakovich’s monumental Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’, famously performed during the Seige of Leningrad in the Second World War, will be performed by the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and, due to the scale of this magnificent work, members of the NZSO.

NYO Leningrad opens with the world premiere of Ephemeral Bounds by Ihlara McIndoe, the 2021 NZSO NYO Composer in Residence. Ihlara was inspired to write the piece after visiting Antarctica.

Open Doors, a series of free events proudly supported by the NZSO Foundation during the festival, will include NYO Playlist presented by National Youth Orchestra ensembles.

The two performances of 20th and 21st century works will be held at Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber on 3 July and Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre’s Renouf Foyer on 10 July at 4.30pm, prior to The Rite of Spring concerts.

Tickets to Matariki, The Rite of Spring and NYO Leningrad in Auckland and Wellington are available from

Conductor Gemma New. Photo credit: Roy Cox

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