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NZSO players back together on stage to stream new performances

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra this week returned to rehearsing and performing at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre, which is allowed under COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

For the first time since late March, groups of NZSO players are able to rehearse together on stage and have their performance filmed and streamed to all New Zealanders. All rehearsals and performances follow Ministry of Health guidelines, including social distancing.

Performances on stage this week included the last in the series Ryman Healthcare presents Discovering Beethoven, curated by NZSO Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen.

Earlier performances in the series were filmed in each player’s home and edited together. The finale will premiere at 4pm this Sunday, 24 May. "It is such a pleasure to be back on the MFC stage playing with colleagues again at the same time and in the same space," says NZSO Section Principal Flute Bridget Douglas. "After almost two months having to play together remotely I was really missing the immediacy of our music-making and the ease of communication that can only be experienced when you're all together. It's food for the soul to be back playing the glorious music of Beethoven. We hope our audience enjoys listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it."

Douglas will perform the first movement of Beethoven’s sublime Trio for Piano, Flute and Bassoon with NZSO Section Principal Bassoon Robert Weeks and guest pianist Jian Liu.

Discovering Beethoven celebrates the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth in 2020. The streamed performance on Sunday features three other works - Three Equali, Quintet in E-flat Major and String Quartet No. 14.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the NZSO has cancelled all concerts with audiences until August and has instead streamed more than 20 new performances. The return to the Michael Fowler Centre allows the national orchestra to significantly expand what it can play and stream. More details will be announced soon.

Next week the NZSO will also stream Sei Solo 5, featuring NZSO violinist Simeon Broom performing three movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3.

Sei Solo is a six-part series where NZSO string players perform their favourite movements from one of Bach’s solo partitas, sonatas or suites, and share their thoughts on what the baroque composer’s music means to them.

Each performance was filmed by a player performing in their home and curated by NZSO Guest Assistant Concertmaster Jessica Oddie. Sei Solo 5 will premiere at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 27 May.

Other online performances since the COVID-19 lockdown have included the weekly series Play Our Part where NZSO players and international guests performed in their homes, an ongoing series of educational videos called Music Room, and previously-filmed NZSO concert performances. Discovering Beethoven and Sei Solo 5 are supported by NZSO project partner RNZ Concert.

All performances can be viewed at and Music Room videos at via smart TV, mobile phone, tablet or computer.

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