Bay of Plenty Symphonia

BOP Symphonia rehearse with Martin Riseley for Northern Lights concert

BOP Symphonia rehearse with Martin Riseley for Northern Lights concert

Classical music aficionados and all music lovers alike have much to look forward to at Bay of Plenty Symphonia’s upcoming Northern Lights concert, taking place on Sunday 21 November at Baycourt, 2.30pm.

The concert will take the audience on a journey across Northern Europe, with musical highlights representing its cool landscape and patriotic composers: Sibelius (Finnish), Shostakovich (Russian), Wagner (German), and Smetana (Czech).

The concert, conducted by Justus Rozemond, opens with ‘Šárka’ - the third work of ‘My Fatherland’, a set of six symphonic poems by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.

Full of intensity and musical imagery, it is a dynamic and highly vivid piece of music that aptly represents the Czech legend - Šárka - a female warrior princess.

Sibelius’ ‘Violin Concerto’ is the centrepiece of the concert. Sibelius, a failed violin virtuoso himself, wrote this technically demanding concerto as a homage to the instrument.

From its beautiful first note to its dramatic end, this music showcases the brilliance of the violin. Top New Zealand violinist and concertmaster of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Martin Riseley is Bay of Plenty Symphonia’s internationally renowned soloist.

Wagner’s beautifully evocative ‘Forest Murmurs’ is a lyrical piece, part of Wagner’s opera cycle, Ring Des Nibelungen.

Here, Siegfried, the hero, rests in the forest and is enchanted by ‘the forest murmurs’ - the orchestra’s string section, portraying leaves and branches gently swaying above the forest floor and the birdsong, using the flutes, clarinet and oboes.

The concert concludes with Shostakovich’s ‘Symphony No.9’. Written in 1945, it was intended to be a momentous work celebrating the Soviet victory over Germany.

The result was a surprise to everyone. It is short at 26 minutes, small in scale, much lighter in tone than the 7th, his most famous wartime contribution, devoid of pompous grandeur and with more sense of balance.

As Bay of Plenty Symphonia’s final concert for the year, Maggie Gething, Bay of Plenty Symphonia Committee member, says the Symphonia is looking forward to wowing audiences with an ambitious programme.

“The concert features some classical repertoire that is not often performed by community orchestras.

“We are also excited to have internationally renowned violinist, Martin Riseley, performing with us. He performed with Bay of Plenty Symphonia several years ago and we are honoured and delighted to welcome him back with the wonderful Sibelius concerto.”

After completing his post-graduate studies at the famous Juilliard School in New York, Riseley spent many more years in North America as concertmaster of several orchestras, performing chamber music with leading musicians such as Pinchas Zukerman and Yo Yo Ma.

Since returning to New Zealand as Head of Strings at the New Zealand School of Music, Riseley has given many recitals and chamber music concerts here and overseas and has recorded works by leading New Zealand composers. 

He has been concertmaster of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra since 2015.

Gething explains that despite the difficulties of Covid, the show will continue with some changes.

“Despite Auckland and Hamilton support players having to be substituted due to border restrictions, and with reduced seating available at the venue due to Covid spacing requirements, the show will go on.”

Gething says support from funders, including TECT’s grant of $3,654 towards the concert, has been vital to ensure it can go ahead.

“The funding from TECT and other sponsors is so important as Bay of Plenty Symphonia is a community orchestra made up of enthusiastic amateur musicians of all ages from around the Bay of Plenty.

“The orchestra performs four main concert series each year, and this, together with other funding, helps with the cost of putting on concerts, such as hiring soloists and promotion costs.”

Requirements for social distancing will be in place, meaning tickets are limited and are close to selling out, so make sure to buy yours online today. Tickets will be sold in small, separated groups.

Tickets: Adult/Senior $22; 18 and under $2. Service fees apply.

Available from Ticketek or phone 0800 842 538, or in person at the Baycourt Box Office.


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