Monday, June 29, 2009

APO and Organs

Photo: Kerry Stevens

Wild weather did not keep away a large crowd of mums, dads and children from yesterdays APO open day in the Auckland Town Hall. Ensembles were conducted by little would-be conductors, little hands poured over the stands of the creators of flutes and stringed instruments and everyone sat on the Great Hall floor, riveted, as introductions were made by APO’s CEO Barbara Glaser. Eckehard Stier, the APO’s Director of Music, conducted the full orchestra and stopped from time to time to point out irregularities, quiz the audience, and award complimentary tickets for correct answers. AND the little demonstration organ was a real draw card. John Wells, Kerry Stevens and I had much pleasure in explaining the workings of a pipe organ through the medium of the beautifully constructed demo organ (made in Bonn by Klais). Soon it will have a permanent place in the Town Hall where visitors can operate it for themselves and get an idea of how the huge and much older brother, soon to grace our Town Hall, works. The Auckland City Council are to be warmly commended on the commissioning of this little organ which will enable the public to see just how a pipe organ works. It will reside in various places in the Town Hall.

The BIG BROTHER will soon start receiving its remaining thousands of pipes and will (all going well) be finished by the 2nd December. Then it will be ‘played in’ privately, until the grand public launch at 4.30pm on Sunday 21st March 2010. Put the date in your diary now. It will be a great celebratory day. More exciting news about the launch later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

There’s nothing quite like a Welsh Maestro

Scottish Opera certainly know where to obtain their Maestro for the next performances of The Italian Girl in Algiers in Edinburgh and Glasgow, later in the year. Scottish Opera’s Maestro is not available to conduct the season, so our very own Wyn Davies has been engaged to bring it all to life. Nothing like great cooperation from the Celts, is there. We wish Wyn another joyous season of The Italian Girl. And while on the subject of conductors, warmest congratulations to John Rosser on his fine conducting of the final night here in Auckland. I watched almost the entire performance from the Stage Manager's area with monitors right on the conductor.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wales wins – in music, at least

The visit of Bass Baritone Bryn Terfel was a vocal highlight of 2009. Not only did we have the great pleasure of hosting the singer, but his parents, Nesta and Hefin, were here also, as a kind of birthday present for dad to see New Zealand, and they loved it as we did them. Great and lasting bonds were established. Both parents are singers (who in Wales is not) and for me it was a great pleasure to sing (as an impromptu), the Welsh National Anthem with them at the reception at Colin and Maree Reynolds' home in Auckland (hosted by The Opera Guild and Friends). Later in the evening, I was coerced into singing a duet of Po kare kare ana with Bryn. I have, still, no idea how this came about but concluded that as he had only just learned it he wanted a local ‘prop’. It was great, for me!

The Saturday concert in the Great Hall was a wonderful occasion and what a performance. Beautiful at full voice and beautiful in the softest and almost inaudible notes. Wonderful control and the clearest possible diction. We were blessed and thrilled with the occasion. Bryn was just the most engaging and easy mega star and we have been so fortunate to have had him here for this tour under the auspices of the NBR New Zealand Opera. Thank you Aidan for arranging this. Unforgettable.

Bryn opens soon in Tosca at Royal Covent Garden in the role of Scarpia. That will be a marvellous production I am sure.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bryn Terfel Joins Dunedin Choir

Well not quite, but while charming his way around the Scottish outpost, he popped in on the Dunedin Male Voice Choir. Immediately they claimed him as an Honorary Member and proclaimed him their new Welsh pronunciation coach. As if this weren't enough, he has also visited the albatrosses and seals, offered a game for Zingarei-Richmond, had two offers of marriage and six dinner invitations. Such capacity for life! As Stuart Coats, our NBR New Zealand Opera Tour Manager, says: “He’s that kind of chap”.

Next, he will be in Christchurch (13th June) then Wellington (17th June) and then on to Auckland. For those fortunate enough to possess one of a very limited number of tickets (available at a mere $45 from Julie Byrd at the NBR New Zealand Opera offices, phone 09 379 4068), there will be a Meet and Greet at the home of Colin and Maree Reynolds, Viaduct Basin on the 19th June. The Auckland concert will be the following evening.

Don’t miss this one (and probably final) and only concert to hear this great performer.