First-time volunteer and CMNZ concert-goer Grace Stainthorpe left Michael Houstoun’s BEETHOVEN reCYCLE concert in Christchurch in a haze of feel-goodness…

Grace Stainthorpe volunteering at Michael Houstoun's 'Waldstein' concert in Christchurch

Grace Stainthorpe volunteering at Michael Houstoun’s ‘Waldstein’ concert in Christchurch

I was lucky enough to attend the first concert in Christchurch of Michael Houstoun’s ‘BEETHOVEN reCYCLE’ tour, securing one coveted seat as a volunteer usher. Being my first time volunteering for anything, naturally I was a teensy bit nervous about messing up peoples change for the programs and the like-but I think I did okay! As far as ushering goes, I think it’s a great way to experience a different aspect of concerts:  you get to encounter how much work actually goes into putting the whole thing into action and (this is the cool part) you sometimes get to meet the performer(s)! And I did; I met Michael when I brought him his water and snacks (a common usher duty), although I didn’t get more than a thankful smile from him (he was absorbed in rehearsing) it was great nonetheless!

After all the programs had been purchased, the audience shown to their seats, we all settled down in auditorium and eagerly anticipated the moment in which Houstoun would grace the spotlight. He soon did, and without much fuss quickly settled down and poised to begin. From the very first note, right through to the final, quintessential echo was left whispering through the air, the audience and I were held spellbound, entirely mesmerized by Michael’s astounding, blissful musicality and gripped with the impact of the pure mastery of his technique.

Before this concert I had never seen any of Beethoven’s Sonatas performed live, and I have to say recordings cannot even begin to compete to witnessing it live; I loved everything about this concert. Michael’s passionate, exquisite technique and the marvellous stories he portrays through the mediums of his hands had me leaving the concert ablaze in smiles, a music induced happiness.

“His tone control and balance is phenomenal. It just captivates you” Alison Holden, pianist and music teacher.

“The fluidity and conversation between his hands is amazing. He just makes it look so easy” Ann Holden, pianist.

So it looks I was not the only one who enjoyed this performance; those thoughts were given to me by my fellow volunteer ushers who clearly enjoyed Michael’s performance immensely. I have a feeling that if I had asked around I would have gotten similar exclamations of appreciation, if the thunderous standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert was anything to go by.

So, all in all it was exactly was all us music lovers long for: a night filled with lovely company and beautiful, exquisitely performed music.

– Grace, Year 12 at Christchurch Burnside High School


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