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NZSO Concerts Feature Music Giants And Gifted Young Composers

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The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra presents two exciting and distinctive concert experiences in the Greater Wellington Region from 30 May.

Jubilation: Strauss & Shostakovich in Wellington on 30 May features masterpieces by the two music giants alongside two stunning contemporary New Zealand works.

Reflections: Schubert & Beethoven, in Carterton (31 May) and Kāpiti (1 June), is an intimate performance by an extraordinarily talented NZSO string quartet – Assistant Principal violinist Jessica Oddie, Assistant Concertmaster Yuka Eguchi, Associate Principal violist Alexander McFarlane and Associate Principal cellist Ken Ichinose.

NZSO Music Director Emeritus James Judd, who conducts Jubilation in association with Summerset Retirement Villages, says the Orchestra is elated to present music by two outstanding young New Zealand composers, both Todd Corporation Young Composer Awards winners.

“Our programme begins with the exuberant Fanfare by Henry Weng whilst the second half of the concert kicks off with the whimsical fantasy world of Sai Natarajan in We Long for an Adventure”, he says.

Jubilation is a rare opportunity to enjoy Richard Strauss’ Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme which Judd hails as “a theatrical feast of lively music and moods.” Originally written for a revival of the comic masterpiece of the same name by French playwright Molière, this exquisite work captures the spirit of the play while also expressing Strauss’ genius.

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Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme is one of three essential works by Strauss the NZSO performs in 2024. His Don Quixote features in the Orchestra’s Tchaikovsky 5 concerts on 17 and 18 May in Wellington and Auckland, and Ein Heldenleben on 25 and 27 July in Wellington and Christchurch.

Dimitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, written to celebrate the Soviet victory at the end of the Second World War, was a significant departure from the big statements of his 7th and 8th symphonies. Jubilant, light and bursting with melodies, Judd says critics at the time misinterpreted it as support for Stalin’s regime.

“Conductor Leonard Bernstein saw through the ruse and recognised that beneath the surface this music could be seen as ‘a great nose thumb against Stalin’. Underneath lurks complexity, irony and sorrow.”

In Reflections Franz Schubert’s Quartettsatz is a chance to enjoy one of the composer’s best works for a string quartet and Beethoven’s radiant String Quartet No. 9, part of series of larger and grander string quartets from the composer.

The chamber music concert also features Baroque master Henry Purcell’s beautifully evocative Fantasia Upon One Note and contemporary American composer Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte.

Shaw, the youngest ever winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Music, is also known as violinist, singer and improviser, who has worked across music genres, including a collaboration with Kanye West. Entr’acte was written specifically for a string quartet.

The NZSO also tours Jubilation to Blenheim (6 June), Invercargill (11 June) and Dunedin (13 June) and Reflections to Nelson (7 June), Dunedin (12 June) and Christchurch (14 June).

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