Eight Seasons Q&A with Andrew Beer

Auckland Philharmonia's Lucy Harris chatted with our acclaimed Concertmaster, Andrew Beer, ahead of his appearance both directing and performing as violin soloist in Baroque & Beyond: Eight Seasons.

The Baroque & Beyond series is well-loved by Aucklanders. Can you tell us about the series and what makes it a such special experience?
It's a fantastic combination of the familiar and the less familiar. The Baroque repertoire is usually famous and well-known by audiences. The "Beyond" tends to have clear connections to the Baroque and is fantastic music, which both challenges and entertains audiences. Also, most of the music in the Baroque & Beyond series is performed without a conductor, so it's such a lovely opportunity for Auckland Philharmonia musicians to work directly together as a team of talented and motivated instrumentalists towards outstanding performances.

The concert is entitled Eight Seasons, how do you see the four seasons each expressed in Vivaldi and Piazzolla’s music?
The expression of the seasons is so incredibly different between Vivaldi and Piazzolla - in a sense, they demonstrate how far away Italy and Argentina are both geographically and culturally from each other. For example, if one takes the character of the music as a hint, Spring and Autumn are the nicest times of year in Italy, while Winter is quite lovely in Argentina – go figure!

Piazzolla was a great innovator of dance styles, as was Vivaldi. Can you tell our audience about how these great composers engaged with dance forms, and how this is reflected in their respective pieces in the concert?
To be honest I don't know much about dance, and I can't dance to save my life. Even for such a hopeless dancer as myself, this music makes me WANT to dance. Enough said!

People hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons all the time, notably in the 2000s with the famous National Bank TV advertisements. What will set the Auckland Philharmonia’s performance apart?
Live performance of music always has a more direct and powerful effect on listeners and viewers, and Auckland Philharmonia musicians are so very gifted. They are also extremely passionate performers – this is really palpable for audiences. If you haven't experienced the Auckland Philharmonia before, this is a great first opportunity, please come along!

You’ll be wearing two hats on the night, as soloist and directing from the violin. Can you tell our audience about these dual roles and how you go about leading an orchestra without a conductor?
Yes, this is a very exciting and daunting task. I've performed the Eight Seasons before, but have never directed it. I'm so glad that my first time directing will be with my amazing Auckland Philharmonia colleagues, with featured roles for Ashley Brown on cello and David Kelly on harpsichord. I'll come to the first rehearsal with strong and hopefully motivational concepts about how the music should go, while David and Ash and Liu Yi, James, Rob and Gordon (the section leaders) and other musicians will all have helpful ideas – it's definitely a team effort!

What other Auckland concerts are you most looking forward to this year?
Our Opera in Concert in July this year, Die tote Stadt, was a major highlight – an epic undertaking! In terms of concerts to look forward to, of course Mahler’s Fifth Symphony on Saturday 11 November will be a delight – it’s always an honour to perform such miraculous music as Mahler 5!

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