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First audio described chamber music concert at Toitoi

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Chamber Music New Zealand’s concert at Toitoi next month will bring with it a visual and sonic feast, designed to be enjoyed by everyone from the Hawke’s Bay community, including those who are blind or vision impaired.

For the first time, CMNZ will offer audio description in all 10 centres of its nationwide concert tour of Transfigured Night. The programme is a collaboration between the New Zealand String Quartet and BalletCollective Aotearoa, featuring music by Dvorak, Schoenberg, and local composer Tabea Squire.

Audio description enables the blind and low vision community to enjoy concerts, through a live, objective description of the visual elements of the performance, which is provided throughout.

CMNZ’s Rachel Hardie, who will be the audio describer for the Toitoi concert, says the performance fuses dance and chamber music, which makes it quite a unique audio described experience.

"This is the first time we are doing this in Hawke’s Bay, so we will be over the moon if we get locals taking up this opportunity."

Ms Hardie will speak through a stenomask and the participating audience is given earpieces receiving the live narration of a script specifically created for the show by Audio Described Aotearoa. She says it has always been CMNZ’s priority to ensure the best possible experience for all audiences.

"Before the concert we take the participants up on the stage so they can see, hear, or feel the set, costumes and performers, so they have a better understanding while listening to the performance."

Toitoi Kaiwhakahaere Ratonga Whakaari - Presenter Services Commercial Manager Glen Pickering says accessibility is a key part of Toitoi’s programming considerations.

"We firmly believe in the value of the arts for everyone in our Heretaunga community - inclusivity a key part of our kaupapa at Toitoi. So when we are programming shows, we always consider how we can ensure they are widely accessible. Sometimes that’s about ticket price and other times it’s audio description, seating options or which parts of physical venues we use," he says.

"We love working with organisations like Chamber Music New Zealand who are just as focused on inclusivity as we are. At the end of last year, they brought their relaxed concert series to Toitoi, which was well-received by our community, so this audio described concert is a natural extension of that."

Although CMNZ has previously offered audio description for select concerts in main centres, this is the first time a concert tour has been able to offer the service in every location.

Audio described tickets will include:

- a touch tour of the stage and set, prior to the performance

- audio described concert

- free companion seat

- usher assistance (if required)

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