Toru Whā, Ka Rewa a Matariki

Chamber Music New Zealand celebrates Matariki 2019 with:
Toru Whā, Ka Rewa a Matariki (‘Three, Four, The Rise of Matariki’)
Featuring NZTrio & Taonga Pūoro master Horomona Horo
This beautifully curated performance of works written especially for NZTrio by kiwi composers Dame Gillian Karawe Whitehead, Victoria Kelly, Martin Lodge, Richard Nunns, Jeremy Mayall, and Gareth Farr, explores the meaning of Matariki in modern day Aotearoa and includes tuonga pu
A collaboration that contemplates and invites discussion on the first encounters between Māori and European explorers and the resulting effects on our shared culture, as well as the significance of Matariki in our Aotearoa/New Zealand today.
Watch Toi Huarewa (The Suspended Way) by Victoria Kelly
Watch Nga Whetu Hou by Martin Lodge
Watch Te Waka o te Rangi by Gillian Whitehead
Watch Ahakoa he iti he pounamu by Jeremy Mayall

New album Boosted campaign

!!!Thank You!!!

With 5 hours left on the clock, we’ve reached 91% of our target – wahoo! Join us at 3pm today to celebrate with three movements from Theodor Kirchner’s Bunte Blätter Op. 83 Kia ora whanau!
Click here to watch on YouTube
Click here to watch on Facebook
Click here to watch it from our Boosted page

Not too late to help us reach 100%
OR Help us spread the word by sharing this link Every little bit helps! Reminder Donations of $1000-plus will receive the following : special access to the first performance of this CD repertoire a free CD in the post upon completion a mention of gratitude in the CD booklet huge kudos for going that extra mile to support the arts during a difficult time

HighNotes E-news March 2020


March 2020

Kia ora,

Welcome to our first HighNotes of 2020. Here is a  recap of summer activities, a quick overview of our year ahead together, some details about upcoming concerts, and a special spotlight on our relationship with RNZ Concert.

Sound the fanfare!

Welcome to the NZTrio family, Amalia and Somi!

Last year’s Tectonic series was just the preview – NZTrio is officially reborn in 2020 with the stellar new line-up of Amalia, Somi and Ashley. Yay!!!

For the first couple of months of the year Somi and Amalia have been honouring some remaining prior commitments (read about that below). Meanwhile, Ashley has been holding the fort, discovering some thrilling new repertoire, and drawing together this year’s intriguing programmes (while also guesting as principal cellist in APO).

Amalia’s Summer Notes

After 3 blissful weeks of complete relaxation and time off at home with my family, I set off to Argentina to perform chamber music and teach masterclasses at the Festival de los Siete Lagos, in the beautiful Patagonian mountains (see photo). It was a real retreat, with extremely limited internet access as well as only a few hours of electricity per day!

Next up was a visit to Sydney to perform string quintets by Glazunov and Taneyev; following that, I flew over to California for 2 performances of Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 with the Vallejo Symphony and Music Director Marc Taddei; then finally a brief visit to London to complete a recording of Matthew Hindson’s Maralinga, as soloist with the United Strings of Europe. All super exciting projects, but I can’t wait to resume NZTrio activities again this March!

Somi’s Summer Notes

After my first Christmas in NZ in 5 years, I spent two weeks as a staff pianist at NZ Opera School in sunny Whanganui. I was an intern there 8 years ago – it felt surreal to return as a member of staff, and I had such an amazing and rewarding experience, coaching and working with teachers I knew already from London!

I’ve now been in London for the past 6 weeks. Highlights so far include two song recitals in the Netherlands (including a scary boat trip in the middle of Storm Dennis to get to the second recital), receiving an ARAM from the Royal Academy of Music) and immersing myself in the opera scene over here – in the last five weeks I’ve been to see CarmenMadame ButterflyFidelioLa bohèmeLa traviata, Susanna, and Alice in Wonderland!

Now I am in the beautiful countryside in Northern England, in Cumbria, spending the week as a staff pianist on the Samling Young Artist Programme. We are in a luxurious farmhouse hotel, where the students receive lessons from internationally renowned tutors – delicious meals and countryside walks are scheduled daily.

I’ve enjoyed an amazing European winter, but I can’t wait to fly back next week to start rehearsals with NZTrio!

Beets and Roots

Our 2020 series is all about combining Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebrations with intrepid journeys through the diverse musical and cultural backgrounds of our musicians and composers. So, unofficially, we call it our ‘Beets and Roots’ series.

We’re excited to share an intriguing exploration of ancestry, diversity and heritage with you. Each concert begins with a powerful masterwork from Beethoven in a toast to his enduring influence on European music traditions. Then we swerve off into radically diverse realms – each a visceral mosh-pit of geographical, cultural and religious influences:

The first episode, Origins (April 5/7), celebrates the rebirth of NZTrio, introducing the new line-up with an intimate journey through our musical and cultural influences – English, Korean, Indian, Jewish-American – and spotlights the inclusive understanding exemplified by Zemlinsky. Click here for more info or to book your tickets.

The second, InterFusions (July 5/7), zooms further out touring the globe through rich combinations of Greek-Canadian, Sri Lankan-Canadian and Japanese-Kiwi flavours, returning to Europe for the equally aromatic masterpiece of Ravel. Click here for more info or to book your tickets.

The final episode, Constellations (Oct 18/20), zooms right out to explore the spectral wonders of the cosmos – light and matter – returning to Earth into the romantic embrace of Korngold. Click here for more info or to book your tickets. 

Book the whole series (10% savings) before April 7th and be in the draw to win a $200 voucher from  our friends at WORLD Factory of Ideas and Experiments.

P.S. Note our fab new series images from Garth Badger at Thievery Studio!

Manic March and Animated April

In March we are rehearsing intensely for the month and year ahead. April will be super-busy with our Origins concerts in Auckland and Nelson (NCMA Celebration Series) and in Australia. There are two international composer conferences happening too – International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) in Auckland and Asian Composers League (ACL) in Christchurch. We’re playing a feature concert in each one. It’ll be a brain-strain with all the brand new, avant-garde, complex music. But it feels great to participate on the forefront of such a fascinating and experimental sound-world that forges new pathways for the masterpieces of the future.
Click here for concert details.

Later in 2020, watch for details of our CMNZ tour, plus a tour of the UK and Europe. We’ll keep you in the loop.

Partnership Podium

We ♥️ RNZ Concert!

The recent ‘policy turbulence’ around RNZ Concert remains very concerning. But the way the community banded together to kick back at this threat is thoroughly heartening and the response from government gives us hope.

All that uncertainty wasn’t pleasant for our friends who work there. So we want to highlight our relationship with RNZ Concert.

Decades ago, RNZ would pay the artists they recorded. The income was small but very useful to a fledgling group like “The New Zealand Trio” as we used to be called. When that policy changed, while it hurt the budget, we could still appreciate the extraordinary, if intangible, benefit of working with RNZ Concert to broadcast our brand of music: our programmes, our interpretations, our message that chamber music is exciting, stimulating, topical, and captivating. It’s important to us that our music is accessible for anyone who is open to be moved, so it’s essential that it gets broadcast to the wider public. While we are fervent proponents of the live music experience, those Kiwis who can’t get to our concerts for whatever reason still have the opportunity to experience our music through RNZ Concert. That’s why all of us at NZTrio ♥️ RNZ Concert!

And we particularly appreciate the steadfast support of Tim Dodd and Adrian Hollay. They are consummate professionals and unflappable perfectionists… who sometimes have to squeeze their production desk into a corner of our dressing room!

A Note from Tim Dodd, Producer at RNZ Concert:

At RNZ Concert, we appreciate NZTrio so much. Our duty, as a publicly funded broadcaster, is to “provide services of the highest quality”, which “stimulate, support, and reflect the diversity of cultural expression, including drama, comedy, literature, and the performing arts” and “stimulate, support, and reflect a wide range of music, including New Zealand composition and performance” (RNZ Charter). NZTrio’s concerts tick boxes for us.

But that sounds so detached and emotionless. Much more than that, NZTrio’s concerts are wonderfully curated, exquisitely performed, exciting, and both serious and fun. They make great radio. And when we’re recording the concerts in the Loft at Q Theatre, sound engineer Adrian Hollay and I perch ourselves in a corner of the trio’s dressing room with our gear. It’s a pleasure for us to share their space and we enjoy the social interaction as much as their music. Amalia, Ashley and Somi are very special people.

And the Winner is…

Congratulations to our recent survey winners Vicki Taylor of Motueka (CD winner) and Kerry Taylor of Auckland (concert tickets). With every newsletter we draw a new CD winner from our concert feedback cards, and today’s winner is… Sue MacRae. Congratulations Sue, you’ve won a CD of your choice (view the selection here). We will be in touch to work out the details soon.

Thanks everyone and we are look forward to seeing you at this year’s concerts.

From Ashley, Amalia, and Somi – NZTrio

NZTrio gratefully acknowledges its
Sustaining Partner: Creative New Zealand
Funders: Foundation North, APRA AMCOS, Auckland Council,
NZTrio Patron Programme, Four Winds Foundation
Supporters: MinterEllisonRuddWatts, WORLD clothing, biodynamic massage,
David Jenkin Piano Service, Lewis Eady, and Music Planet

One of the worlds outstanding musical groups

NZTrio’s recent concert, Origins, was one of the first live concerts post Coronavirus in Auckland and showed that they are one of the worlds outstanding musical groups, effortlessly spanning the classical and contemporary repertoire.
The five works in the concert spanned 200 years from Beethoven’s Piano Trio through to a recent commission by the New Zealand composer Sarah Ballard along with works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Isang Yun and Alexander Zemlinsky. The five works were intended to show the range of influences on the various  composers  as well as the backgrounds and choices made by members of the trio.

The Beethoven work which gained its title for the  ghostlike second movement relies on the talents of the three players and the NZTrio showed that they are threesome with a real sense of purpose. Individually they are exceptional musicians but when playing together they are electrifying.
Ashley Brown provided the bedrock of the piece, his cello moved from whispering to howling and rumbling, capturing an underling sense of tension. Amalia Hall gave a sensitive and energetic performance while Somi Kim at the piano never dominated the two string players integrating her beautifully expressed playing with verve.

Throughout the piece the three players seemed to communicate not only through the music but also with an empathy and awareness of each other. They brought a depth of understanding to the piece as through revisiting the composers own personal sense of nostalgia  and the mysterious.
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “A Fast Stomp” was radical mixture of classical music infused with punk, jazz and film music. The work encapsulates the evolution of music from the classical through to modernism with a number of experimental sequences.
Sarah Ballard’s commissioned work  “Prema Lahari”  was inspired by Indian music and Sanskrit poetry and made use of a  drone as well as prayer bells. The Western instruments replicated the sounds of  Indian instruments  such as the sitar with the trio played in a  relaxed, almost yoga-like contemplative style.

Isang Yun’s  “Piano Trio”  was an acknowledgement of pianist Somi Kim’s Korean heritage. Yun’s music  is an amalgamation of Asian musical styles and Western avant-garde. The work composed in the 1970’s  pushes the boundaries of music with techniques and sounds the violin and cello being played in unconventional way  – using the wood of the bow to lay the strings and extended glissandos, sliding up and down the strings. the strings brushed and lucked in the violin and cello ss well as the piano with  Kim leaning into the piano to create eerie sounds.
The music provided watery sounds; rain falling, lakes shimmering and  water dripping. These sounds provided a sense of nature but also the ventured into the realm of electronic music.

The final work on the programme was Zemlinsky’s Piano Trio” written in the 1890’s when he impressed Brahms with his originality. This work was a far cry from his more modernist works such as his opera “The Dead City”, although it prefigures his more experimental music. The first movement  was late Romanticism on a grand scale  worthy of Brahms  while the middle section had theatricality to it with the finale displaying a passionate emotionalism. This was all delivered with flawless technique capturing the late flowering of Romanticism and hinting at an emerging modernism.
John Daly-Peoples, NZ Arts Review

We felt the players bouncing energy off one another, having a real musical conversation

Breaking the silence imposed by the COVID-19 restrictions, NZTrio returned to the stage last night in the Concert Chamber of Auckland’s Town Hall.  Their programme titled Origins touched on the performers’ own ancestral backgrounds as well as paying homage to Beethoven’s 250th anniversary.

Alas, we were not in the cosiness of Q Theatre’s Loft, and it is a puzzle that the theatre has not opened its doors when artists such as NZTrio are battering it down with a programme at the ready.  However, the Concert Chamber offered a bigger acoustic and maybe a richer experience.  And not to be sniffed at after such a lean year, more actual seats to generate ticket income.  And how appropriate for NZTrio to have the bigger venue as a fanfare for their first performance of the year.

To come out of COVID silence then and open with Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, the “Ghost” had a whiff of audacity.  It opens with such adrenaline that players must need to be already pumped to bring it off with full aplomb. Not to mention it is outrageously well-known that one nervous stroke could be noticed.  And perhaps the slightly tricky octave string tuning of the second movement betrayed a little of the awe of the situation. However, the professionalism of NZTrio kept things beautifully moving and it was a real pleasure to hear this live.

Backlit by pink, NZTrio eased into the rich acoustic of the Concert Chamber by the third movement. The drive of this last movement caught vigour and excitement. Here we felt the players bouncing energy off one another and having a real musical conversation.  The Town Hall Steinway piano was given full glorious voice under the flying fingers of Somi Kim.

Having paid due homage to the master, the British lineage of cellist Ashley Brown was next. Contemporary composer Mark-Anthony Turnage’s A Fast Stomp was a complete change of soundscape.  Brown described that Turnage would really like this work talked of in punk terms, or perhaps ska or grunge. But, as my companion observed, this could have been Shostakovich’s lost trio, it had the revolutionary sounds of the 1930s. With it’s driving voltage and rhythmic syncopation the Turnage was a hugely energising piece.  Kim gave great depth to the piano stomping. The strings of Amalia Hall and Brown had brilliant Bartok-like pizzazz. It had the kind of raw acidity that was a good foil to the rich Germanic temperament.

New Zealand composer Sarah Ballard’s Prema Lahari was a new commission and offered up a sanctuary next. Opening like liquid sun it poured peace upon the audience. The title is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘waves on the ocean of pure love’ and arose from Ballard’s own meditative practice.  A recording of the Indian tampura created a meditative cycle against the strings, albeit a bit too loud against the acoustic Trio at the start. It was appropriate that Amalia Hall with her one-eighth Indian ancestry took up the first ‘voice’ of the piece. Richly developed through cello with sitar-like ripples on the piano, this was a beautiful piece that I would love to hear lengthened a little. Ballard’s own chanting infused the finish with beauty and the handbells created a spine-tingling ending.

After an interval in the classy foyer of the Town Hall, it was on with the concert and a visit to Somi Kim’s Korean ancestry. Not a sound world I am familiar with, it was with truly fresh ears that I heard Korean composer Isang Yun’s Piano Trio. Written between 1972 and 1975 immediately we were somewhere new. It was a more spacious soundscape with quiet intensity punctuated by bursts of tone clusters, a more challenging piece for the audience and I imagine for performers too. Kim reached into the body of the piano and plucked strings. A soft rainstorm, the groan of ancient trees and the waking of insects could almost be heard.  A very refreshing soundscape and maybe a first for New Zealand?

Finishing this Origins programme we were swept into 1890s Vienna with Alexander Zemlinsky’s Piano Trio in D minor. It was Romantic pinot noir to the Korean ginseng tea.  Here the Trio seemed to stretch out, Kim on piano luxuriated in the runs from top to bottom of the keys. Here was Hall’s honeyed tone that has wooed us in previous concerts.  And Brown’s consummate beauty of tone and pliable give-and-take created a rich string interplay. It is a perfect choice to bookend with “The Ghost”, and such a peach of a piece which allowed all players to shine.

Last night was a night of firsts – the official launch of the new permanent line-up of performers for the NZTrio, their first concert of the year and (surprisingly) the first show in the Auckland Town Hall since lockdown.  The Trio took themselves and their audience to full stretch in terms of both diversity, sound and technical challenge. And they delivered an ambitious and triumphant night in full celebration of being 100 percent back in business.

Radio 13  – Clare Martin