Legendary Kiwi Record Holder inspires composition for APO Schools Concert

New Zealand motorcycle racing legend Burt Munro has inspired a brand new work commissioned by the APO.

Composed by APO Communities Composer Ryan Youens, MUNRO: a short fanfare celebrates the life and achievements of the legendary land-speed racer, who set the world speed record for under-1000cc motorbikes with a streamliner in 1967 – a record that still stands today.

“The idea of a piece inspired by Burt Munro was the obvious choice for me. He is a Kiwi icon who achieved something extraordinary. Setting his spirit of ingenuity, determinism, optimism and Kiwi ‘can-do’ attitude to a piece of music intrigued me greatly,” Youens says.

“Musically, there is a relentless energy and a mechanical drive, with short rhythmic ideas constantly recurring, often interrupted by a strong jolt, but always returning. As the piece draws to a close, there is finally a sense of cohesion, satisfaction and accomplishment.”

The piece will premiere to a capacity audience at APO Connecting’s Discovery concert on Wednesday 1 May. This concert, exclusively for secondary schools, gives students the opportunity to have a full orchestral experience tailored for them – with special guest John Munro, Burt’s son, attending to hear the piece inspired by his father.

Another highlight of the concert is a new composition by the APO’s 2019 Rising Star Young Composer-in-Residence, Reuben Rameka. The specially-commissioned piece, Ko Māui me Te Rā, is a retelling of the story ‘Maui and the Sun’ and will feature the full orchestra alongside Westlake Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools’ Choralation choir.

As APO’s current Rising Star Young Composer-in-Residence, Rameka, a University of Auckland composition student, receives ongoing mentorship from the APO Communities Composer Ryan Youens and is commissioned to write three new works to be performed at APO Connecting concerts or events.

“Being chosen as the APO’s Rising Star has been a true blessing. It is an exciting and challenging experience. I get to work with a highly professional group of musicians as well as wonderful staff. It pushes my creativity to its limits which, honestly, makes me even more excited to compose for the orchestra,” says Rameka.

Students attending the concert will also experience masterworks by some of history’s beloved composers, including Mozart’s overture from The Marriage of Figaro, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Strauss’ Radetzky March and Stravinsky’s The Firebird: Suite (1919).

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