Collab puts message of love in NZSO season

John Psathas. Image: Robert Cross



NZSO 2024 Maxim Vengerov

Maxim Vengerov

NZSO 2024 Andrea Lam

Andrea Lam

NZSO 2024 Gemma New

Gemma New

NZSO 2024 Dima Slobodeniouk

Dima Slobodeniouk

Collab puts message of love in NZSO season

For composer John Psathas, the opportunity to collaborate with Moroccan singer and poet OUM and oud virtuoso Kyriakos Tapakis on a work marking the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attacks was one he grabbed with both hands.

“It is not often one has the opportunity to offer a message of solidarity, love, and compassion through one’s artistic work,” the celebrated New Zealand composer says.

The NZSO programme Beyond Words, to be performed in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in March, will premiere the new collaborative work, Ahlan wa Sahlan.

Beyond Words bridges Eastern and Western music traditions and features Kyriakos Tapakis, a master of the Middle Eastern stringed instrument the oud, and Moroccan vocalist and poet OUM. The NZSO will be led by Muslim conductor Fawzi Haimor.

Beyond Words will also include Umoja, Anthem of Unity by Valerie Coleman, Funebre by Iranian composer Reza Vali and Silouan’s Song by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

“Together we are creating a musical message of welcoming – Ahlan wa Sahlan – a greeting used to tell someone that they’re where they belong, that they’re a part of this place and they are welcome here. It’s a way of saying ‘You’re with your people’,” John Psathas says.

In 2024 the NZSO will perform one of its largest number of works by New Zealanders and contemporary composers.

Visiting global music stars will include violinists Maxim Vengerov, Augustin Hadelich and Christian Tetzlaff, percussionist Jacob Nissly, and pianists Andrea Lam and Alexander Gavrylyuk.

Several of the world’s best conductors also join Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor Gemma New, NZSO Music Director Emeritus James Judd and NZSO Principal Conductor-in-Residence Hamish McKeich in leading the orchestra next year. The stars include Dima Slobodeniouk, Stéphane Denève, Vasily Petrenko, Han-Na Chang, André de Ridder, Tianyi Lu and Thomas Blunt.

The NZSO begins the 2024 season with Mahler's epic Fifth Symphony in a concert that opens with New Zealand composer Salina Fisher's recent work Kintsugi and Emmy Award-winning American composer Adam Schoenberg’s Losing Earth, featuring the percussionist for whom it was written, Jacob Nissly of the San Francisco Symphony.

Schoenberg will be in New Zealand for the performances, and Nissly will collaborate with the New Zealand percussion community during his visit.

Gemma New returns for main stage concerts in September, performing revered New Zealand composer Lyell Cresswell's final major work Piano Concerto No. 3, alongside Copland's Appalachian Spring and Mozart's Jupiter Symphony. She will also conduct the 2024 season finale with Christian Tetzlaff and Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir in a programme of Kaija Saariaho, Elgar and Holst's Planets.

André de Ridder, who captivated NZSO audiences this year, returns to conduct three distinct concerts with Maxim Vengerov, Andrea Lam and a whānau-friendly concert featuring John Williams’ music from the Harry Potter films.

Dima Slobodeniouk leads the orchestra for Beethoven’s glorious Sixth Symphony and Debussy’s magnificent La mer.

Virtuoso Maxim Vengerov makes his New Zealand debut with the NZSO in August. The 49-year-old Grammy Award winner has been hailed as “one of the greatest violinists in the world” by Classic FM.

Also in August, Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich returns to perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Thomas Blunt leads the NZSO for Handel’s Messiah, featuring soprano Madison Nonoa, mezzo-soprano Bianca Andrew, tenor Filipe Manu and baritone Benson Wilson, along with renowned choir The Tudor Consort.

Celebrated pianist Stephen De Pledge, NZSO Section Principal Cellists Andrew Joyce and Julia Joyce and NZSO Associate Principal Cellist Ken Ichinose are among the New Zealand artists to perform in 2024. Thirteen-year-old pianist Shan Liu will play with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra, conducted by Tianyi Lu.

NZSO Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen directs an ensemble of NZSO string players for a programme of spiritual intensity, featuring works by Lilburn, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner and more. 

James Judd conducts Shostakovich's witty Ninth Symphony, and an equally humorous work Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, alongside two works by young Kiwi composers Henry Meng and Sai Natarajan, both 2022-23 NZSO Todd Corporation Young Composer Awards finalists.


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