Power to the audience!

Imagine a concert where one of the country’s leading orchestras performs music chosen entirely by the audience – and the admission is whatever the audience thinks the ticket was worth. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) in conjunction with RNZ Concert today launches Settling the Score – the annual countdown of New Zealand’s favourite classical music.

Voting opens today throughout New Zealand via an online voting form on the RNZ Concert and APO websites, and is open until 23 September. Voters are asked to nominate their top three favourite classical works; the results are then tallied and the full countdown will be broadcast on RNZ Concert on 10 November, with the top 10 orchestral works revealed that night in Settling the Score Live with the APO at the Auckland Town Hall.

Audiences votes have chosen the programmes for Settling the Score Live concerts for the last five years, but this is the first time the APO is offering them their say in the ticket price as well. Tickets will be free to book, then following the concert, people can make a payment at the box office or online.

Previous top 10 results in Settling the Score have included perennial favourites like Beethoven’s Fifth and Ninth symphonies, Holst’s The Planets suite, and Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending has warranted a mention in the top 50 every year since Settling the Score began in 2000, typically securing a place in the top 10. RNZ Concert will this year keep its tradition of broadcasting the full countdown again on New Year’s Day.

Ronan Tighe, Director of Artistic Planning at the APO, relinquishes his usual role in programming an APO concert and says New Zealanders have come up with some interesting and exciting programmes in the past. “We always look forward to seeing the results as they come in, and even though it’s undoubtedly going to be a programme of popular classics, there are always some surprises. It makes for an exciting concert,” he says.

RNZ Concert’s Radio Programmer David Houston says he will be looking out for enthusiastic electioneering. “We really want to get the public thinking and talking about why they love the music they love, and Settling the Score is a really engaging platform for this. In past years we’ve had some wonderful campaigns from the public and musicians alike, and we’re excited to highlight the conversations these create, on air and online. The ultimate reward will be New Zealanders expressing their passion for classical music, and hearing their favourites performed live by Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra,” Houston adds.

APO Chief Executive Barbara Glaser says the voting public has become more engaged in recent years through social media. “We love seeing the passion that arises out of the public voting process,” Glaser says. “Now that concertgoers can also decide how much they would pay for the concert they programmed, it adds an interesting new dimension. I can’t wait to see what happens!”

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