Tag Archives: performance

Concert review: Recent Student Works, UC Music

A review by Riho Kojima:

UC School of Music had an exciting time at our concert ‘New Music Central: Recent UC Student Works’, on Monday 13 May. This was one of our regular Monday programmes, but this time it was at a different venue – the TSB Space in Tūranga, the new central library. Having our performance here certainly made it outstanding!

Our usual venue, the UC Arts Recital Room in the Arts Centre, is so small and cosy you feel close to the performer. However, the TSB is almost double the size so there was enough space between the stage, audience and especially for technical equipment, without the venue feeling tight. As soon as you walked into the site, you could feel the sharp mood given from its spaciousness and being surrounded by black walls and floor. It seemed to be encouraging people to join in even during the concert by having entrance at the opposite side of the stage and stylish cylinder-shaped sofas placed behind the regular seats. 

The program had variation of performances such as quiet and sensitive strings, strong and energetic piano, pop music and even fully electronic compositions and theatre-performance using cell-phones.

One of the performances that I personally found appealing was Echo of a Sonata composed and performed by Gabriel Baird (piano), influenced by Debussy and a Russian composer and pianist, Kapustin, who is well-known for using jazz idioms within classical structures. Gabriel’s piece is in sonata form, which consists of two sections. The A section was a beautiful shower of rapid, chaotic piano tunes with colourful jazzy chords, while the B section was brooding, calm and mysterious in its mood. Gabriel says that this piece was mostly based on a few improvised phrases. These phrases expressed frustration and anxiousness through their unstable and irregular tempo, with the addition of occasional accents with clashing chords.

The most unique spectacle in the concert was certainly Voice Pollution: Quartet for Four Cellphones composed by Rosa Elliot, performed by John Armstrong, Naomi van den Broek, Oscar Days and Daniel Mathers. Through this performance, what you see is four characters sitting on equally spaced chairs. Their bodies are facing the audience but eyes are locked on their phones while chaotic noises of social media are coming through the loudspeakers. Rosa says that this was a new challenge for her, to compose something fun and non-orchestral, and to point out the addiction to smartphones and the internet which everyone would have experienced these days.

It was spine-chilling to see those figures connected online via messaging or calling, but with the physical distance between them, each trapped in bubbles of the lights from their device – which is the only way for the audience to see their face in the pitch dark room. Rosa said that the performance differs every time since all the noise on the speaker is from their phone, playing  what they swipe on from whatever website they are on at that time. I think this makes the performance more realistic thus it successfully conveyed her strong message of warning about the dangers of this type of addiction.

Lastly I want to talk about one of the contemporary music performances which was full of powerful emotions. This was the songs Wondering and Rise Up composed by Nicole Taylor, performed by Nicole (voice) and Jeremy Lidstone (piano). Nicole says she composed the melody of both songs in group work from her high school. She says her influences are Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, both Canadian pop singers and songwriters. She made an interesting comment that every time she performs Wondering it changes the perspectives and meaning as she gains more experience in her life. In contrast, Rise Up is created with the purpose of releasing the struggling emotions caused from an accident that happened to her and her friends in which they lost a friend. 

For those who missed this concert there is good news! Another concert, Recent Student Works 2 is coming on October the 14th so make sure to mark it in your schedule! There are also several videos of performances, not only by UC music students but guest performers from various countries, uploaded on our Youtube channel, University of Canterbury Music Performance. I truly recommend watching these videos as this is definitely a fantastic opportunity to engage with a variety of music genres; just what UC Music is aiming for.

The remainder of the programme featured the following student works:

Yggdrasil for Violoncello and Harp composed by Thomas Bedggood; the concert started with this calm, mysterious and empyreal music. This piece was inspired from Yggdrasil, the massive world tree in Norse mythology. Performed by Mark Mensies (viola) and Ning Chiang (harp).

Volkstanze no. 3 “Djupblå” for Solo Violin, composed  by Thomas Bedggod; Thomas notes “this is the third in an ongoing series of solo works for stringed instruments, that seek to explore different aspects of the instruments written for whilst incorporating material from a wide range of cultural sources.”

Sonata for Violin and Piano, composed by Rakuto Kurano, Performed by Rakuto (violin) and Gabriel Baird (piano). This splendid and speedy tune with Japanese music idioms quickly shifted the atmosphere in the room from classical to modern vibes.

Miniature Compositions for Computer group work by Pius Lee, Cameron Buyers, Rosa Elliott, Nicole Taylor and Oscar Days. This collection of compositions by students studying electronic music and sound design was played through loudspeakers, and consisted of distorted voices and synthesised tunes, exploring “the idea of the virtual phantom sound space that exists between the loudspeakers”.

Where My Heart Used To Be and Makeup composed and performed by Hannah Everingham (voice & guitar); her sweet breathy voice with quiet guitar was the perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day. 



See Xenia Pestova perform live in July

During July, the School of Music is delighted to host internationally renowned performer Xenia Pestova. Xenia will be taking part in a number of events while she is here including New Music Central, the School of Music’s weekly concert series. During this concert Xenia will be performing works by UC Head of School of Music, Glenda Keam, as well as other internationally celebrated composers Ed Bennett & Miriama Young.

Photo: Chris Webb

Xenia appears at UC courtesy of Chamber Music NZ, she is currently touring with Chamber Music New Zealand as part of their 2017 Encompass Series.

This will be the premiere performance of Glenda’s work, ‘Mind Springs’. The initial images that preceded the composition of ‘Mind Springs’ work were of water springing and bubbling from the ground, and New Zealand’s geysers with their accompanying babbling flow of mineral-laden water that over time build sinter structures and pathways. But as the piece took form it became clear this was not made of bold, grand explosions but rather a more contemplative series of leaps that were inward-looking.

Another work in the programme, by Miriama Young, invites the audience to engage with the electronic part for the piece, which can be streamed during the concert performance via an interactive smartphone app. The App with its embedded audio is available for free download from the iOS App Store or Google Pay, by searching for ‘SyncSound’. Once downloaded, follow the downbeat of the pianist to press ‘play’. The downloading and use of this app during the concert is entirely voluntary.

You can see Xenia Pestova at the following events:

Composition Workshop with Ed Bennett

  • Monday July 17 at 3.30-5pm
  • Recital Room UC Arts, The Arts Centre of Christchurch, 3 Hereford Street.

New Music Central featuring the premier of Glenda Keam’s ‘Mind Springs’

  • Monday July 17 at 7-9pm
  • Recital Room UC Arts, The Arts Centre of Christchurch, 3 Hereford Street.

Watch Xenia performing Chaandanee (Egidija Medeksaite).


Grammy-winning pianist professor gives free Christchurch concert

Acclaimed classical pianist Professor Angelin Chang, who is attending the international conference on Pacific regional security hosted by the Macmillan Brown Centre, will perform in Christchurch this month.

With multiple honours to her name, Professor Chang won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Performance with Orchestra in 2007. She will be in New Zealand to attend the regional security symposium, which is being hosted at the University of Canterbury from 25-26 November, where she will facilitate a session on human rights, resource rights and security.

Recognised for her poetry and technical brilliance, she is the first female American classical pianist and the first pianist of Asian descent to win a Grammy. She is also the first American to be awarded the Premier Prix Piano and Premier Prix Musique de Chambre in the same year from the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris in France.


Professor Chang has performed in major concert halls on five continents and was the first Artist in Residence at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC and the first Academic Performing Artist for Yamaha Corporation of America. She holds two doctorates (law and music) and is professor of music at Cleveland State University. Professor Chang is also co-chair of the Asia-Pacific research committee of the International Political Science Association.

The Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, in partnership with Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, is presenting a piano concert by Prof Chang at 7pm on Wednesday 25 November, at Merivale Lane Theatre, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, 59 Hewitts Rd, Merivale, Christchurch.

Entry is free to ticket holders. Book your free tickets by contacting Patricia Ydgren, email: patricia.ydgren@canterbury.ac.nz Refreshments will be served.