Day Six: Engaging in a different way

Tuesday 5 Feb – From Euan Murdoch (Chamber Music NZ CEO and cellist)



My previous post was about engaging in the music as a way of reaping greater rewards as a listener. Yesterday’s experiences for me were more about gaining insights about the artists and their art as a way of reaching closer to the music.

Colin Carr’s masterclass, for the record on works by Schumann and Bach, touched on so many points that are applicable to life as well as to cello playing. You did not need to be a cellist or a musician to benefit from his pearls of wisdom. His openness, simple philosophy, gentle humour and genuine humility came through, and we all benefited from the wisdom of his thirty years’ teaching experience. He put each student at ease, always had just the right story and analogy to bring his teaching points to life and to encourage them to try something new.

To hear someone of this stature concede that he learns something new from every student he teaches is in itself an invitation to us all to stay engaged. He finished up his class by thanking the audience for our part in the festival.

It’s been such a privilege to get to know Colin Carr better and after hearing his splendid Bach on Sunday, it came as no surprise that his teaching yesterday was also inspirational.

BonaNZa’s chamber opera The Magic Trombone promised something special. Their publicity photo (pictured) of four trombonists on horseback dressed as cowboys prepared us for something out of the ordinary and that’s exactly what they delivered. Combining the musical talents and humour of musicians from the NZSO and APO with fetching costumes, melodramatics and plenty of self-deprecation, gave us a good laugh and at times their virtuosity and ensemble playing was amazing.

As they signed off with their signature tune (William Tell Overture of course!) I realised that they had drawn us in to get to know them better and to provide another entry point for listeners to all styles of music from Finlandia, to an a cappella intro to When the Saints… (was that really Dave Bremner singing basso profundo?) and even Pictures at an Exhibition.

Many of us will remember the wonderful skits of pianists Victor Borge and Dudley Moore. Their audiences were drawn in to the music through their humour and staggering technical feats.

To think all this talent is hiding up the back of our two finest orchestras…what will BonaNZa tackle next?


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