Reviews, News and Commentary

The Auckland Philharmonia’s impressive 2022 season

John Daly-Peoples

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

2022 Season

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2022 Subscription Season which has just been announced  features forty-four performances across ten venues. It is an impressive schedule given that these performances are in addition to the extensive community, schools and outreach projects. The programmes offer a balance between exciting new works and major masterpieces with  local and international talent.

Barbara Glaser the Chief Executive of the APO says “For next year’s programme we have done  some risk assessment in how we plan the season. So, in the early part of the year we have Giordano Bellincampi who has a critical worker exemption status who will be returning to conduct as well as New Zealander Geneva Lewis. Also, at the start of the year we have some of our local soloists like Jonathan Cohen, our Principal Clarinettist.”

Giordano Bellincampi

“Then for later in the year we decided we would take the risk and assume open borders  and have an international artist season.”

In this year’s programme  there is a full range of nineteenth and twentieth century symphonic works. The major work will be Bruckner’s “Symphony No 4”, the composers most accessible  and coherent work. Also drawing on the nineteenth century will be  Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No 4”, Brahms “Symphony No 4” and Schuman’s “Symphony No 4”.

Twentieth century works will include Rachmaninov’s “Symphony No 2”, Walton’s “Symphony  No 1”, Martinu’s “Symphony No 6” and Strauss’s “Alpine Symphony”. The Strauss work which has previously featured a few times in Auckland concerts is an extraordinarily evocative and detailed work celebrating a day’s climbing in the Alps and was inspired by Strauss’ own walks in the mountains and his love of nature.

There is also New Zealander Douglas Lilburn’s “Symphony No 3” which  was among the composers last purely acoustic compositions.

Glaser notes that “We have probably got a few more New Zealander artists across  the season   than we would have had pre- Covid. Those dozen kiwis  show that we have  a richness of local talent.”

“Orchestras in general operate in an international environment and our audiences have been exposed to a lot of local artists but in the long term we will move back to having a balance of international and kiwi musicians.”

Also providing a New Zealand dimension to the programme will be a major new work from award-winning composer Victoria Kelly. Her “Requiem” uses the poetry of Bill Manhire, Sam Hunt, Chloe Honum, Ian Wedde and James K Baxter, and is inspired by the visual language of photographer, Anne Noble. Kelly has composed for film and television with soundtracks for: “Under the Mountain” and “Out of the Blue”.

Then in June for Matariki, the APO and Rob Ruha will provide  night of music, kapa haka performing works such as “I Te Pō”, “Ka Mānu” and “Kalega”.

There are a number of major violin and piano concertos on offer including  performance of Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto”, Dvorak’s “Cello Concerto” and Shostakovich’s “Cello Concerto.”

Glaser is looking forward to  a number of the works on offer for next year. “Any time Giordano is on the podium is a highlight for the orchestra and the audiences. He has developed a really lovely rapport with both the musicians and our audiences. I am particularly looking forward to hearing  the symphonies of  Bruckner, Brahms and Tchaikovsky.  The Tchaikovsky in particular because it was that concert we had to close down at the last minute when there was a Covid outbreak in the Auckland CBD. That concert is going to be a really emotional event.”

Music Director Giordano Bellincampi will take the podium for the opening performance on Thursday 17 February and will be joined by Auckland born violinist Geneva Lewis in her official NZ debut playing Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto”.

Geneva Lewis

As the daughter of legendary kiwi tennis champion Chris Lewis, US-based violinist is currently rated as one of the most exciting young players performing on the international circuit. She gained early chamber music fame as a member of the renowned Lewis Family Trio with her siblings and she made her solo debut with the Pasadena Symphony at the age of eleven.  She has already played at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and next year will perform, at the Wigmore Hall in London.

In May the  13-year-old Australian violin prodigy Christian Li will be playing with the orchestra. He is the youngest ever winner of the Yehudi Menuhin Competition at the age of ten and in 2020 became Decca Classics youngest ever signing. His career successes to date have been guided by his teacher, the New Zealand violinist and renowned pedagogue Robin Wilson.

Li will be playing Saint-Saëns’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” along with Ravel’s “Tzigane”. The Saint-Saëns work was written as a showpiece for the virtuoso violinist of the time, Pablo de Sarasate. Li’s recent Melbourne performance of the works was described as ‘a mind-boggling MSO debut by the Aussie wunderkind violinist Christian Li.’

Other soloists include Principal Harpist Ingrid Bauer performing Debussy’s “Danses sacrée et profane” and Tailleferre’s” Concertino for Harp and Orchestra” and Principal Clarinettist Jonathan Cohen performing Nielsen’s “Clarinet Concerto”.

There are also performances of Mendelssohn “Violin Concerto”, Dvorak’s “Cello Concerto” and Shostakovich’s “Cello Concerto No 2”.

Later in the year there will be international pianists Ingrid Fliter (Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2) and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Bartok’s Piano Conceto No 2) as well as 2021 Gramophone Artist of the Year violinist James Ehnes (Bernstein’s Serenade).

Other artists of note who will make their NZ debuts with the APO in 2020,include Norwegian trumpet sensation Tine Thing Helseth, conductor Shiyeon Sung and cellist Anastasia Kobekina.

A major contemporary work will be  by the Polish composer  Krzysztof Penderecki who died earlier this year His  “Trumpet Concerto” was one of his last works and first performed in 2015. Audiences would have heard his work “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” played in the Town Hall a few years ago. His radical  work was adapted for films such as “The Exorcist”, “The Shining” and “Twin Peaks” and he influenced many composers including Led Zeppelin and Radiohead.

On the same programme as  the   Penderecki will be the Russian Aleksandra Pakhmutova’s “Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra” It is a work she wrote  in 1955 but was only introduced to the West in the late 1970s. Her music is an example of  optimistic post-Stalin musical compositions  which composers such as Rachmaninov and Shostakovich managed to avoid.

After sell-out performances of their Beethoven symphony cycle last year 2022 will see the orchestra turn their attention to Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi contributing to three of the composer’s great works: his Requiem, II Trovatore, (the APO Opera in Concert)  and New Zealand Opera’s production of Macbeth. The APO and New Zealand Opera are offering a special three-event ticket package for audiences to experience these remarkable works.

The orchestra will also be offering some concerts designed for families and children with “APO for Kids” as well playing Mark Knopfler’s music to accompany a screening of  “Princess Bride.”

The orchestra’s “Broom and Stick Man” concert features two films based on the books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which are brought to life  with René Aubry’s magical score.

Glaser is also delighted that they are able to present the “Baroque and Beyond “ series which have been delayed on numerous occasions. “That concert came directly out of the Covid experience where the musicians performed without a conductor and they all wanted to repeat that experience”

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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