Tag Archives: music

Christchurch Arts Festival: Virtuosity Series

UC School of Music is very proud to present the Virtuosity Series to be performed at the Arts Centre during the Christchurch Arts Festival of 2017 in August and September this year.  The Virtuosity Series is a three-part series that features different disciplines. Professor Mark Menzies, Head of Performance, School of Music talks about how the programme features the idea that “sound itself has its own kind of incandescent virtuosity”.

Virtuosity of Sound is the first installment of the series and as Mark describes, there is a certain openness in the music and it has been composed in such a way that allows the performer to explore in the moment the sound created by the virtuosity on display. The audience will be treated to the ultimate capacity of the instruments themselves, and also in the diverse collective of instruments involve, for example, the Balinese Gamelan features as an exotic instrument.

One of the pieces featured is ‘Concerto for Active Frogs’ by Anne LeBaron. Mark is “particularly delighted to include this piece which features improvisation with the musicians being free to contribute their own voice and sounds”.

Virtuosity of Percussion is the second installment of the Series and features Senior Music Lecturer Dr. Justin DeHart on percussion. He has selected a piece called ‘Anvil Chorus’ by American composer David Lang. Justin explains that Lang was inspired by Blacksmiths’ use of rhythm to distinguish their beating patterns on metal to create new tools, while Justin himself is inspired by the constant construction noise as he settles as a new resident in Christchurch. He says, “the natural occurrence of hammering polyrhythms sang out from a construction site, reminds me how basic and productive rhythm can be”.

Justin says that each of the four movements of the piece explore a different single sound source (conga, cymbal, glockenspiel, and tambourine) that is manipulated through live electronic processing. He has chosen “works for this concert that highlight the diverse aspect of percussion” and in his performance he hopes that in a small way his “hitting of stuff” will also add to the exciting and creative rebuild of Christchurch.

The final of the three arts festival concerts, the Virtuosity of the Viola/Violin, is the first of four concerts Mark will be presenting this year at the School of Music. The series is called ‘4 in the time of 7’, and will feature Mark’s virtuosic playing described by a reviewer in Los Angeles as “a penned-up Paganini”.

While the Virtuosity of Percussion and the Virtuosity of Viola/Violin are presentations of more traditional repertoire, they will feature works that people are not likely to have heard before.

170805 Virtuosity Blur - Arts Festival

Thursday 31 August, 7.00-9.00pm
Monday 4 September, 7.00-9.00pm
Sunday, 17 September 5.00-7.00pm

School of Music Recital Room, UC Arts,
The Arts Centre of Christchurch, 3 Hereford Street

TICKETS: $20 / Concession $10

BUY TICKETS: www.artsfestival.co.nz/virtuosity-series

Arts Festival: The Oresteia Experience

The Christchurch Arts Festival 2017 (CAF17) is on during August and September. CAF17 boasts over 50 shows, and we’re very excited that UC’s very own School of Music, Department of Classics and Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities are collaborating to present the Oresteia Experience. Head of Classics Dr. Patrick O’Sullivan says that the New Zealand premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ operatic take on Aeschylus’ Oresteia “is a collaboration that only the Classics and Music Departments could produce”.

The two-hour duration of the show features a talk on the dramatic aspects of the composition and performance itself by both Professor Mark Menzies, Head of Performance, School of Music, and Dr. Patrick O’Sullivan, Head of Classics. Following this, a tour of the University’s Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities will set the scene for the performance in the Great Hall.

Dr. O’Sullivan has rich experience in researching ancient Greek theatre and is very keen to see how the Oresteia Experience is recast in Xenakis’ vision and under the direction of the School of Music’s Head of Performance and performed to a modern audience. He notes that the links between Greek myth and opera go back for centuries, so this new production of Xenakis’ challenging work will be not only innovative but also extending a long and creative tradition of music performance inspired by the classical world.

One of the co-curators of the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, Terri Elder is delighted to support the production of the UC School of Music Oresteia Experience for the Christchurch Arts Festival. She says this event “draws on the strengths and connections between Music and Classics to create a truly unique experience that should be both challenging and entrancing” as the performance explores “themes of belief, loyalty, family, justice and revenge”. She says that the Oresteia Experience is an opportunity for modern viewers to engage with Ancient discourse and understand the cultural context of the artefacts which gave rise to the mythology behind the performance.

170802 Oresteia Arts Festival

Professor Menzies speaks of the horror, suspense and the very basic human emotions that underlie the experience of what the complicated story of the Oresteia is about. Mark describes the performance as “incredibly potent on an emotional level” and introducing the experience beforehand will “give an appropriate outline to the story” allowing the audience to fully engage with the performance. “Xenakis took this iconic work of literature and tore it apart, leaving chorus in reimagined ancient Greece, in the most visceral exciting emotion vehicle possible”.

Please note this performance includes violent imagery and music played at very high volumes which may not be suitable for some audience members. Discretion is advised.

WHEN: Sunday 10 September 2017, 6.30pm-8.30pm

VENUE: Great Hall The Arts Centre

TICKETS: $39 / Concession $36 / Student Rush $20

BUY TICKETS: http://www.artsfestival.co.nz/oresteia-experience

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 and 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  Aotearoa 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 3.30pm-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 7pm-9pm
  • Recital Room UC Arts, The Arts Centre of Christchurch, 3 Hereford Street.

Watch Xenia performing Chaandanee (Egidija Medeksaite).


NZ Music Month at UC Library

UC Library is proud to present two special lunchtime music performances inside the Education Library to celebrate NZ Music Month.

music month

On Tuesday 16 May we are hosting jazz pianist extraordinaire,
Darren Pickering.

Darren has taught in schools in London and Cairo as well as performed internationally, including at jazz festivals in Cyprus and Lebanon. He is a regular performer at jazz festivals throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, including the upcoming New Zealand Jazz Festival this May, where he will play with Oval Office, the Symposium Big Band and in a duo setting with vocalist Kate Taylor.

Darren’s keyboard, piano playing and compositions also feature on numerous studio albums across many genres – the latest albums he plays on include the recent releases by both Shapeshifter and Pacific Heights. We are incredibly lucky to have Darren playing solo piano live in the library ahead of his New Zealand Jazz Festival performances.

On Monday 22 May we are hosting singer/songwriter, composer and musician, the multi-talented and very lovely Alice Tanner.

Alice is a professional singer performing around NZ. She performs in many groups, including cover bands, jazz bands, duos, original bands and also solo.

Alice studied at CPIT Jazz School and has a Bachelor of Musical Arts majoring in Jazz Vocals. A classical background in both cello and piano means she is a well-rounded musician with a breadth of knowledge in different styles and genres. Alice will be performing a mixture of covers, originals and jazz standards for her performance in the library.

Both performances are free, so bring your lunch and come along for some live music in the library, this NZ Music Month.

Key details:

  • Darren Pickering: Tuesday 16 May, 12.15pm – 12.55pm.
  • Alice Tanner: Monday 22 May, 12.15pm – 12.55pm.
    Te Puna Ako – Education Library, Dovedale.