From Beethoven to Bowie

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra announces 2017 season filled with magnificent music

Some of the finest international musicians, world and New Zealand premieres and the most celebrated works in the classical repertoire are among the highlights of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2017 season, announced this evening at Auckland Town Hall.

Excerpts and highlights from the APO’s 2017 season were presented at the free season launch concert for the public tonight, and also live-streamed online. APO Chief Executive Barbara Glaser says the 2017 season continues a commitment to the great masterworks of the core classical repertoire, but also showcases diverse and intriguing programmes and artistic collaborations. “From mainstage concerts at our home in the Town Hall to ensemble performances at Gibb’s Farm Sculpture Park, and a new standalone series on the North Shore, we are bringing wonderful music to every corner of Auckland,” Ms Glaser says.

In 2017 the APO presents a Young Companion ticket offer for the first time, where adults or seniors with a full price ticket to a main series concert can bring a guest under 16 years old for free. “We’re very proud of our comprehensive APO Connecting programme which aims to engage young people with orchestral music. Giving them the opportunity to attend a mainstage concert for free is just one more way we can open up this wonderful world of music to them,” Ms Glaser says.

The New Zealand Herald Premier Series

Highlights from this series include dazzling Russian-British violinist Alina Ibragimova returning to the APO to perform Bartók’s Violin Concerto No.2, one of the great 20th-century violin concertos (Ibragimova Returns, 20 July). The harpsichord takes centre stage in March, with 32-year-old Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani performing Poulenc’s Concert champêtre in a concert celebrating French composers (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, 30 March). Other returning favourites of the APO include conductor Rumon Gamba and pianist Kathryn Stott, as well as violinist Ilya Gringolts performing Brahms’ Violin Concerto (Mountain King, 1 June).

Bayleys Great Classics

This year the series has been extended to four concerts at the Auckland Town Hall, opening with Chloë Hanslip performing Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto, and closing with Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen playing Mendelssohn’s much-loved Violin Concerto. APO Director of Artistic Planning, Ronan Tighe, says one of his personal highlights from this series is a concert celebrating choral music. “It features the magnificent Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir in a programme of Bach and Handel conducted by the Baroque music specialist Matthew Halls. Our choral concert is always a standout of the season,” he adds. (Baroque Voices, 3 August).

Newstalk ZB Series

“The Newstalk ZB Series is one of the most intriguing concert series in our season, and focuses on a theme across all three concerts,” Mr Tighe says. “In 2017 this theme is ‘Rule Breakers and Innovators’, celebrating the composers who broke the mould and brought music into uncharted territories.” Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony No.3, Philip Glass’s first violin concerto and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring are some of the seminal works featured in this series.

The Trusts Community Foundation Opera in Concert

A highlight of any APO season is the Trusts Community Foundation Opera in Concert, and in 2017 the APO is proud to present Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, the first time the opera with full orchestration has been performed in New Zealand. APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi conducts Puccini’s thrilling score, and singing the title role is Italian soprano Serena Farnocchia, joined by fellow Italian Massimo Giordano, one of the most prominent tenors on the international stage today. The cast is rounded out by Australian Pelham Andrews and rising Kiwi talent, James Ioelu and Bianca Andrew.

World and New Zealand Premieres

In August, APO Principal Percussionist Eric Renick performs the world premiere of a percussion concerto from APO Composer-in-Residence Karlo Margetić, with performances at both the Town Hall and the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. (The New World, 9 & 10 August). New Zealand pianist Michael Houston joins the APO in October for the world premiere of Lyell Cresswell’s Piano Concerto No.2 (Prokofiev 5, 19 October).

Notable New Zealand premieres in 2017 include Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No.1, Schoenberg’s Theme and Variations, and Australian composer and conductor Brett Dean’s Fire Music. Dean returns to conduct the orchestra in his own work, which was composed in response to the Australian bush fires of 2009.

Innovations and collaborations

The APO is pleased to welcome Grammy-winning Chinese composer and conductor Tan Dun for a special concert during Chinese New Year, featuring New Zealand premieres of his works Farewell My Concubine and Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds, a symphonic poem incorporating birdsong which is produced by the orchestra and audience through their smartphones. “Tan Dun is a fascinating and dynamic conductor and composer, and with his tribute to both the ancient and modern, this concert will be extraordinary,” Ms Glaser says.

An exciting collaboration of cirque and symphony comes to the Aotea Centre in November, with the APO joined by performers from The Dust Palace, New Zealand’s premier circus theatre troupe, for Midnight. The show features a spectacular display of aerial acrobatics performed to the music of Debussy, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.

Other renowned New Zealanders joining the APO in 2017 include bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes who features in a concert celebrating Broadway and West End musicals, as well as contemporary singers Jon Toogood, Julia Deans, Ladi6 and Laughton Kora, who join the full APO for a concert of music by the late David Bowie.

The APO also performs in two concerts as part of the Auckland Arts Festival in March; Raiders of the Lost Ark Film with Orchestra, a screening of the original Indiana Jones movie with score performed live by the APO; and Awa, the seventh annual Auckland Dance Project, in collaboration with Atamira Dance Company.

In the community

The musicians of the APO venture out to Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park on the Kaipara Harbour for A Grand Day Out, with small ensembles and soloists performing pieces to complement the spectacular sculptures and rolling hills.

A new standalone miniseries, APO on the Shore, brings two mainstage concerts to the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, ensuring more Aucklanders can experience APO concerts with acclaimed international guest artists.

The APO continues to reach into communities with its ever-popular In Your Neighbourhood concert series and annual Christmas concert at Holy Trinity Cathedral, as well as the award-winning APO Connecting education and outreach programme, which inspires and engages young people with orchestral music.

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