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NZSO plays jazz and classical on Wellington's waterfront

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra returns to Wellington waterfront venue Shed 6 on 8 February to perform works by a diverse range of composers, including jazz legend Duke Ellington.

Rebirth is the first of the Orchestra’s innovative Shed Series concerts at Shed 6 in 2019.

The Shed Series, which premiered last year, presents orchestral music in the informal and relaxed setting of Shed 6. Each concert is designed to appeal to audiences new to the NZSO and those keen to experience the Orchestra playing different kinds of music.

"In the laid-back setting of Wellington’s Shed 6 you can get up close to the NZSO as it performs great classics alongside exciting 20th and 21st century compositions," says Shed Series mastermind and NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich.

"The Shed Series concerts have a casual, inviting atmosphere. You can sit or stand, catch up with friends and enjoy a drink and something to eat while the Orchestra performs."

McKeich says Rebirth celebrates the influences classical and jazz have had on each other. It will open with world-renowned New Zealand composer Jack Body’s jazz-tinged Fanfare for Bert. "It’s a wonderfully uplifting piece and one that isn’t played often enough. It’s also perfect for a summer evening."

The NZSO will also perform French composer Darius Milhaud’s La Création du Monde from 1923, the first classical work to include jazz elements, after Milhaud heard jazz being played in Harlem.

A concert highlight will be Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Biege Suite, which McKeich says is a 20th-century masterpiece. "In 1943 Ellington was the first African-American composer to have their work performed in Carnegie Hall. He wrote Black, Brown and Biege Suite for that concert."

"The works we’ll play by Milhaud and Ellington were groundbreaking. You can almost hear the future in these pieces. At the time of composition this music was futuristic and visionary."

Rebirth features two works by J.S. Bach - his Cello Suite No.5 and Violin Partita No. 2. McKeich says it was easy to include Bach in the concert. His works are timeless and Bach’s music has influenced many jazz composers and performers.

Celebrated contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Wenn Bach Bienen gezüchtet hätte ... (If Bach had been a Beekeeper) also features, and is both a salute to Bach and a work with echoes of jazz, says McKeich.

Rebirth is the first of four Shed Series concerts this year. Over 2019 it will include works by John Adams, Haydn and the New Zealand premiere of a work by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Other New Zealand composers include Eve de Castro-Robinson and the world premiere of a work by oboist Russel Walder arranged by John Psathas.

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