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NZSO’s sold out concert in Wellington on Friday is a world first

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on Friday will be the first full-sized orchestra in the world to perform to a live audience in a concert hall since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 26 June concert NgÅ« KÄ«oro… Harikoa Ake - celebrating togetherness at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre will have an audience of more than 2,000. Unlike the small number of full-sized orchestral performances held elsewhere in the world in recent weeks, the NZSO’s audience is not required to wear masks or maintain social distancing.

"In 1994 the NZSO was the first orchestra in the world to have a website. We continue to be a world leader as the first orchestra to perform in a concert hall without COVID-19 restrictions," says NZSO Chief Executive Peter Biggs.

"This is a magnificent achievement for our national orchestra and testament to the sacrifices and hard work of all New Zealanders that brought us to Alert Level 1 this month."

The NZSO and Wellington City Council have staged NgÅ« KÄ«oro… Harikoa Ake to celebrate the enormous effort New Zealanders made to protect the vulnerable and eliminate COVID-19.

All tickets to the free concert have been snapped up. However, all of New Zealand can enjoy NgÅ« KÄ«oro… Harikoa Ake via a livestream at or a live broadcast on RNZ Concert

The evening includes contributions by acclaimed vocalist and composer Maisey Rika, exceptional taonga pÅ«oro player Horomona Horo, internationally renowned tenor Simon O’Neill, star soprano Eliza Boom, singers from the award-winning Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and schools in the Wellington region.

NgÅ« KÄ«oro… Harikoa Ake will also celebrate togetherness by supporting musical development in Greater Wellington. Concertgoers have had the option to make a koha contribution to the NZSO Foundation. The contributions will go towards community musical ensembles of all ages mentored by NZSO players.

Led by NZSO Principal Conductor in Residence Hamish McKeich, NgÅ« KÄ«oro… Harikoa Ake presents a diverse array of music and voices. The NZSO joins with Maisey Rika and Horomona Horo to perform music from the NZSO’s successful 2019 An Instrumental Voyage Pae Tawhiti, Pae Tata tour. The Orchestra also brings two great New Zealand works to life, the first movement from Gareth Farr’s rousing masterpiece From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs and John Psathas’ ecstatic Tarantismo.

Simon O’Neill and Eliza Boom perform some of the best-known highlights from three great operas: Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s La Bohème and Verdi’s Otello. The full power of the Orchestra will be on show for Richard Strauss’ inspirational Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.

For the concert finale, all soloists will join with members of Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and more than 100 school children to sing the beloved waiata Pōkarekare Ana.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster is delighted that the concert has sold out.

"The NZSO is a national treasure and great source of pride for Wellingtonians," he says.

"As New Zealand’s capital city we are the storehouse of many of our nation’s treasures, and long recognised as the centre for arts and culture. I am delighted by this new expression of the long term partnership between our national orchestra and the Council.

"It is also an inspiring statement of acknowledgment and thanks to our healthcare workers, community services and the many essential workers who together got us through to this point."

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