BEETHOVEN CONCERT 26 OF 40: Best laid plans…

For the last Beethoven reCYCLE concert in Palmerston North on 15 October 2013 we asked the new Chamber Music New Zealand Artist Development Manager, Catherine Gibson, to share her experience of nearly missing the entire event (that’s NZ weather for you!) plus she gives her take on the performance…


The massive storms over much of New Zealand prevented CMNZ’s Chief Executive, Euan Murdoch from returning home to Wellington after Michael Houstoun’s final concert in Napier (13 October). The knock-on effect was that my car ride to Palmerston North for Michael Houstoun’s Programme Six no longer existed. After some disappointment and then a bit of research on the internet  I discovered that there was a cheap grabaseat deal on the little 19 seater Beechcraft  aeroplane that,  all going well, would get me from Wellington to Palmerston North just in time for the start of the concert. 

Best laid plans…sitting on the tarmac in Wellington for twenty minutes past the departure time, I kept re-calculating just how fast the taxi would need to drive to get me to the beautiful ‘grand old lady’ Regent Theatre on Broadway by 7.30pm! Finally up in the air and flying over flooded fields I could see just how devastating this storm had been to parts of New Zealand.

A wind-blown tarmac at Wellington airport made it touch-and-go for our Artist Development Manager to get to Michael's concert in time!

A wind-blown tarmac at Wellington airport made it touch-and-go for our Artist Development Manager to get to Michael’s concert in time!

Reaching the theatre just in time to slip inside for the second movement of the Sonata in Eb, Opus 7 I was instantly struck by the fact that, whenever and wherever Michael is performing, he has such an absolute focus and commitment to the music that one can’t help but feel compelled to join him on his journey of discovery. He is an incredibly sincere performer and the feat of retaining 16 hours of music in his head and playing every sonata from memory on this reCYCLE tour is something quite extraordinary.

The famous ‘Moonlight’ Sonata followed, it was exquisite in its execution, transporting everyone in the theatre to another place, when we were all jolted into a realisation that the performance had suddenly stopped.  The spell was broken; Michael had been disturbed by a photographer and quite rightly needed to leave the stage.

After the interval Michael returned and gave us the Pastoral Sonata and the Ab Opus 110. He created colours of light and shade combined with the variety of intensity that spoke truly of Beethoven and also of Michael’s stature as one of our greatest pianists.

It was a treat to be at the performance and to have the opportunity to meet our Palmerston North Concerts Manager, Karen Carter and see first-hand the wonderful work she and her committee put in to present these fabulous concerts.

– Catherine, 21.10.2013

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