Tag Archives: Performance

School of Music to host Grammy award nominated quartet

The UC School of Music Kura Puoro is delighted to be hosting the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet (LAPQ) in September. A special one-night-only concert in The Great Hall at the Arts Centre is being presented on Monday September 23. This concert forms the second in a series of three concerts in partnership with The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora.

Senior Lecturer, Dr. Justin DeHart is one of the founding members of this world-class contemporary chamber music ensemble. Since 2009, the LAPQ has forged a distinct identity that is dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works for percussion quartet.

Percussion quartet has gained popularity over the last two decades with the advent of DIY chamber groups and the rise of post-minimal music making combining rock aesthetics with electronica and experimental genres. Justin says, “The dynamic as a musician in quartet is just pure fun: the give and take and communicative aspect of a more intimate group”.

For LAPQ the percussion quartet medium has been an exciting medium to explore and commission new repertoire. There just isn’t the hundreds of years of percussion quartets available to use from Beethoven, Brahms, and even Stravinsky. LAPQ’s “classic” repertoire is not yet a hundred years old!

Justin is particularly excited to share his new home country with his fellow quartet members. “I am excited to introduce the group to all the wonderful people I have met here, and have some time for them to experience a bit of the culture.”

While in Christchurch LAPQ will also perform a concert with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra playing the world premiere of Gyre (Ghosts with Accents), a piece written for them by UC lecturer and Adjunct Senior Fellow, James Gardner. James says, “I feel doubly lucky to have been offered this commission. For one thing, being asked to write for the LAPQ is an honour, as well as a technical challenge. I was keen to draw on the players’ expertise and finesse on many instruments as well as their enthusiasm and – here and there – their improvisational skills. The second aspect is to write for the CSO, whose programmes over the last few years have been consistently innovative and have featured New Zealand composers.”

James took the “slightly unusual decision” to focus on ‘unpitched’ percussion in his writing for solo quartet. He says this was “partly because I didn’t want to rely on pitch/harmony for the quartet writing (the orchestra is large enough to provide harmony) and partly because I wanted to showcase the subtleties and richness that can be drawn from such a variety of objects in the hands of such fabulous performers.”

The concert in the Great Hall on September 23 will be their New Zealand debut performance solely as a quartet.

This concert will feature modern works written for percussion quartet with and without electronics. They will perform some of their signature recent commissions from the West Coast of the United States alongside some seminal classics from the region. The concert will feature virtuosic displays of rhythm, sound, light, and movement on over 60 different percussion instruments from around the world, including drums, marimbas, conch shells, tin cans, cricket callers, wooden rulers, and a lion’s roar.

“Percussion still has an aspect of novelty despite it coming out of from the back of the orchestra in the early 20th century”, Justin says. “I think that when people normally think of percussion, they think of loud repeated rhythm, and perhaps barbaric rituals. With our concerts, audiences will be able to experience an often neglected side of percussion—a side of percussion that is far more expressive, sophisticated, and intriguing.”

Tickets for the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet at The Great Hall can be purchased online for $20 waged, $10 unwaged. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience the cutting edge of what percussion quartets are currently capable of!

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

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).


Speak just like TED

We are all called upon to speak publicly
at some stage in our lives.

It will happen. How do you feel about that?

Make your audience grateful, and take the fear out of it, by studying these TED Talk tips:

9 Public-Speaking Lessons From The World’s Greatest TED Talks

Other things that will help you significantly:
  1. Do our Presentation Skills course.  We only have two running this year, and one is coming up in just a few weeks. Sign up!
  2. Read my previous 2 Blog posts:
    Make eye contact & put on boldness like a cloak.
    Nervous? Sweaty Palms? Limelight?

Was this tip helpful to you? Anything else you want to know? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

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Learning and Development

Put on Boldness

Following up last week’s tips on dealing with nerves in meetings, presentations and public speaking, here are the two biggest aids that have made all the difference for me over the years:

Make eye contact

“Put on Boldness” like a cloak


1. Make actual eye contact with lots of people in the room (so that it’s more personal, and to remind yourself that we are all just humans in this together).
Each time you look at someone, look them in the eye and imagine you are speaking just to them.
Try to connect with her/him as a person.
Then move on to someone else. If you can’t see their eyes, pretend you are doing this.

2. “Put on Boldness” like a cloak. Pretend you are being bold:
– stand tall,
– talk strongly,
act confident.
Just by doing these things your physiology makes you feel more confident, and projects confidence to the audience, who then respond more positively to you.
And if you think that sounds interesting, have a look at this TED talk on how your body language shapes who you are.

To get better at this, do our Presentation Skills course. I’ve done the course and it’s surprising how often I get to use those skills, in many different areas of my life. They are highly valuable for all sorts of situations, not only presentations.
We only have two Presentation Skills courses this year, and one is coming up in just a few weeks. Sign up!


Make eye contact

“Put on Boldness” like a cloak


Was this tip helpful to you? Anything else you want to know? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Like these tips? Want to see MORE?

Learning and Development