Kids (and adults) love the Lemony Snicket books A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the new TV series starring Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf is getting even more people hooked. The musical murder mystery The Composer is Dead full of that distinctive Snicket wit and black comedy, and it also introduces kids to the instruments in an orchestra:
The composer is dead? Who killed him? The clever Inspector interviews and interrogates each section of the orchestra. What were the violins doing? Where were the woodwinds? And why does the brass section sound particularly brassy tonight?
Christchurch thespian Michael Bayly narrates the tale, and David Kay conducts the orchestra.
Music featured includes John Williams’ Suite from Harry Potter, Ravel’s Bolero and Ginastera’s Malambo, and a brand new work Schismata by Christchurch composer Hamish Oliver.
The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is launching the Lamb & Hayward Masterworks Series on 17 March 2012 with a concert called Homecoming. It is a homecoming for two musical New Zealanders – violinist Martin Riseley and conductor Tecwyn Evans – both back from successful careers overseas.
Violinist Martin Riseley is a Canterbury graduate who studied at the Julliard and has a successful career performing with chamber groups, appearing with orchestras around the world and teaching. He is now Head of Strings at The New Zealand School of Music. Tecwyn Evans hales from Otago and initially specialised in composition. He began conducting in 1997 then moved on to became Chorus Master at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and then his current position of Concertmaster and Deputy Chief Conductor of Grazer Opera, Austria.
The season brochure tell us that the work by Ritchie was composed in 2009 at the request of Tecwyn Evans, so this is rather a unique chance to hear a piece written for the person who is conducting it.
The concerto is Prokofiev’s lovely second violin concerto which he wrote whilst living in the West, but not long before he returned to Russia (initially to acclaim, but later to endure the stranglehold of Stalinism). It’s considered one of his more conventional works and has a romantic pastoral feeling, featuring Russian folk and Spanish influences. Its early champions included Jascha Heifetz who recorded it twice and Berman. Later David Oistrakh and Perlman are also known for their interpretations.You can test out all these versions, and many others on Naxos before going to the concert.
Brahms’ Symphony is one of his best loved works. He wrote his four great symphonies later in life when he was at the height of his powers and the third symphony is the most optimistic of them. Rich, melodic and lyrical, it reflects his interest in both Beethoven and Schumann. Hans Richter, who conducted the premiere of the symphony, proclaimed it to be Brahms’ Eroica. Listen to performances bywell known interpreters such as Bruno Walter, Klemperer, Weingartner and Rattle on Naxos and get the feel of them before the concert.
This album (and over 67,000 more) is available online for free from anywhere with your library card number and PIN.
As the rain kept coming down and the chill wind crept under even the thickest garments on Sunday, those seeking shelter in New Brighton Library were treated to a sublime performance of singing strings. Cathy Irons (violin) and Tomas Hurnik (cello), both Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians, performed a number of pieces together and solo, including compositions from Stamitz, Prokofiev, Telemann and Bach.
While many people arrived especially for the performance, others who were just happening by couldn’t help but stop and listen on in wonder. It quickly became apparent that there were nowhere near enough seats for all in attendance and the popularity of the event brought a warmth to the library which was sorely needed on such a chill day. The performance ended with a generous amount of applause and people went on their way with lifted spirits and the knowledge that they had heard something a little bit special.
From a personal point of view it was so nice to be at work and to have the opportunity to listen to some wonderful music being performed by such accomplished musicians. Thanks again to Cathy and Tomas for providing those present with a marvellous experience.