Sunday, October 17, 2010

Auckland Town Hall Organ – Inaugural Concert

A CD of the Inaugural Concert of the Klais Organ of the Auckland Town Hall (21 March 2010) is now available for purchase. The CD features the inaugural performance of Symphony in C composed for the occasion by Auckland City Organist, Dr John Wells. 
Signed limited-edition copies of the score are also available for purchase. 
Buy a copy of the CD and the Symphony score for a special 'package' price.
A must-have for all lovers of choral and organ music!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Royal Deaths in Scotland

News is coming out of Scotland of a series of Royal murders. We will update this story as more information comes to hand. Click here to get the latest updates.

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Zealand Opera School Newsletter - July 2010

A warm welcome from the board of the New Zealand Opera School.    
Over the past 17 years, over 200 students have attended the NZOS and the number of students eager to attend the school is at an all-time high, with interest from overseas singers as well. We hope we can help alumni network and make the application process easier by staying in touch by way of ‘the odd’ newsletter update. This won’t be a regular addition to your inbox, simply a way to let you know our latest news.  Plenty to share this month!
Website Launch
Thanks to the skillful design of Arie Hoeflak, we are proud to launch the new face of the NZOS. A temporary site is currently available while the full site is still under construction however you can already access the 2011 Application Form at 

New Logo
What better symbol to represent a New Zealand school for voice tuition than a native New Zealand songbird: “The Kōkako has a beautiful, clear, organ-like song. Its call can carry for kilometres. Breeding pairs sing together in a bell-like duet for up to an hour in the early morning. Different populations in different parts of the North Island have distinctly different songs which many people consider analogous to human dialects."
Our new school motto 'Nihil tumultus, tantum opera' is a Latin translation of one of Director Donald Trott's favourite catchphrases: "Minimum fuss, maximum outcome!". The use of the word 'Opera' is no accident, although in this case it actually mean 'works' or 'output'! Thanks to John Rosser and Warren Buckingham for putting much effort and time into what turned out to be a rather tricky translation job!
Applications for 2011
Applications are now OPEN for the 2011 School.  To maximize what the school has to offer, places are strictly limited to 22 so please complete an application immediately and correctly.  Please note that first time applicants will be required to submit a headshot and audition CD.
Applications forms are available online at
Applications close September  31st.  Late applicants will not be accepted however a place will be held for the winner of the NZOS scholarship awarded at the New Zealand Aria as  the competition takes place after the closing date.
Facebook Page
We are proud to support our students in whatever way we can.  Often this means helping to advertise upcoming events or helping network with people studying and working overseas.  Good ‘ol facebook (although you won’t find Donald on there!) is the obvious place to do just that so if you haven’t already joined, go to our page:  New Zealand Opera School Alumni.  It is a closed group, reserved for those privileged enough to have been accepted at the NZOS! 
Alumni News
A number of recent alumni have found success over the past year. Tavis Gravatt recently won the North Shore Aria, Hadleigh Adams has accepted a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.  Cam Barclay, Amelia Berry and Rachel Day were recently named the 2010/2011 PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists.  Kararaina Walker was runner-up at the University of Waikato Aria Competition and Frances Moore provided interesting reading in the programme notes for the NZSO’s recent tour with Dame Malvina Major.  The list is endless.  Please, if you have any news you’d like to share, don’t be shy (it’s ok to be proud!), send your updates to 
We look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


After five years of planning the new Auckland Town Hall Organ was launched in all its glory on the 21st March 2010. A fine Maori welcome, superb singing from three combined choirs, a new organ symphony composed by City Organist, John Wells, and an organ concerto with the Auckland Youth Orchestra and young Nicholas Tarling at the console, all made for a great day and a time for celebration. Subsequently the APO and international organist Thomas Trotter gave us two further organ concertos later in the week and three weeks later Thomas Heywood of Melbourne gave a splendid solo concert at our April free concert. For all the events the hall was packed – a far cry from the past and the miserable way the organ was treated prior to the late nineties refurbishment of the Hall as the accompanying photo shows. Just contrast the photo from the past below with the photo in one of my previous blog postings, showing the organ as it is now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Whilst outwardly the Auckland Town Hall Organ looks much as it always has, (apart from repolished façade pipes and organ case), but behind that very grand and impressive façade is a brand new organ. Admittedly there are the remnants of the 1911 instrument that were left after the unfortunate 1970 rebuild but basically it is a new organ, and what a wonderful instrument it now is. No longer the hopeful cry from the orchestral conductor ‘More organ please’. ‘Sorry, Maestro that is all there is!!”. Now it is a case of ‘A little less organ please, organist’. 

Klais Orgelbau, Bonn, Germany has delivered Auckland and indeed New Zealand an instrument of international significance. The opening was an occasion for great celebration with the choirs of Viva Voce, Musica Sacra and the Graduate Choir filling the bleaches for a musical treat, the likes of which Auckland has not heard for at least forty years. Congratulations to the Auckland Youth Orchestra and young organist Paul Tarling for their very fine organ concerto. John Wells’ organ symphony, composed specially for the occasion and funded by the Freemason Roskill Foundation and the Lodge of the Liberal Arts, was a major feature of the event. When Philipp Klais had concluded his brief, very genuine remarks on the day of the opening the applause from the capacity audience was long and genuine and at that stage the audience had not even heard a note from the organ. Were they disappointed? NO. As folk departed I was at the door of the Town Hall and the joyous comments from the audience as they departed was ‘music to my ears!’ 

The organ is magnificent and produced the sound we had all wanted, that of the great English Town Hall organ sound. You could feel the sound all around and the deep notes rumbling through the floor as they used to do prior to 1970. And what a rare treat to have the two Maori stops as part of the new instrument and with their beautiful carving and embossed motifs, lodged within the Solo Organ. 

Salutations to Klais, to Philipp and his team, including Thomas, Stefan, Markus, the team from the South Island Organ Company. Special mention to Ian Bell our erudite, engaging and hugely knowledgeable consultant from London who kept us all on our toes. Indeed the creative team of Philipp and Ian have ensured that what we have is what the citizens of Auckland wanted, and they showed it! 

Special mention to Auckland City Executive Leigh Redshaw for his unfailing support and goodwill throughout the project. His work with Ian Bell, Philipp Klais and the Trust provided a highly professional and essential part of the entire project. 

Throughout the project Kerry Stevens, with cameraman, Bill McCarthy, has been recording the progress of the project and it is widely expected that the fruits of their labours will be seen in an hour long documentary on one of our TV stations. This was funded by the trust and indeed the whole project, from inception, has been well documented for the future. 

Ten years ago John Wells was championing the refurbishment of the organ. Indeed many thought it had been done when the Town Hall was completely refurbished 12 years ago, but that was not so. All that happened was the repositioning of the detached console from its position on the stage to a place immediately below the pipes. It was when Mayor John Banks established the Town Hall Organ Trust during his first term as mayor that things really started to happen. Well done John for ‘sounding the call’ and Stephen Hamilton for chairing the trust through five years of negotiations, fund raising and marketing the project, and now it is done.