2015 – Day Four: “Mix and Match”

Chamber Music New Zealand (the folks who coordinate this blog) have recently announced an exciting addition to the team. Peter Walls will join us at the helm as Chief Executive from next week.

Before his appointment as CMNZ CE Peter was on the board of directors and is a highly experienced classical music manager in New Zealand, having spent nine years as CE at the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his role at the NZSO, he was Professor of Music at Victoria University, was made an Emeritus Professor at Victoria in 2006 and received an ONZM for his services to music in 2012.

We’re delighted that before he even has his feet under the desk in the CMNZ office he has put his hand up to contribute to the Ten Days of Chamber Music blog and has given us a good overview of his first few days at the Adam Chamber Music Festival

Blogger and new Chamber Music NZ Chief Executive, Peter Walls.

Blogger and new Chamber Music NZ Chief Executive, Peter Walls.

Sunday 1 Feb – from Peter (written 2 Feb)

This is only my third Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson. It wasn’t until 2011 that I realized what a unique experience it is. What is so special is the “mix and match” aspect of the programming. Eminent visiting musicians partner our top New Zealand artists – principally the members of the New Zealand String Quartet who furnish the Festival’s artistic directors (Helene Pohl and Gillian Ansell). This is in the true spirit of chamber music, of course: music played with friends for friends (and there were plenty of those in the audience). 

The Grand Opening Concert began with two duos: Ayano Ninomiya (first violin in the Ying Quartet) and NZ harpist Helen Webby playing Saint-Saens, then David Ying and Rolf Gjelsten playing Martin Lodge’s eloquent Aria with Commentary for Two Cellos. And so on to Golijov’s Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind in which the New Zealand String Quartet were joined by David Griffiths in some remarkable Klesmer-inspired clarinet virtuosity (who followed this up after the interval with an eloquent Bach-inspired offering for solo clarinet by Béla Kovács. The concert ended with the Ying Quartet in a fine performance of Schumann’s Second String Quartet – a work that is heard all too seldom.

The following morning – in a “Meet the Artist” session – Kathryn Stott talked about her formative years at, first,the Menuhin School (“what I remember about breakfast was having to eat seaweed tablets – because he had some funny ideas about that”) and then the Royal College with Kendall Taylor as an inspiring and dedicated teacher. (KT came to New Zealand as an examiner for the Royal Schools. My mother, a piano teacher, thought he was wonderful, so I presume he liked her pupils – me among them.) After being placed in the Leeds International Piano Competition (“Kendall Taylor suggested I should go in just for the experience”) she rocketed into a hectic schedule of recitals and concerto performances in Britain and Europe that stopped even more suddenly than they started with a phone call to her agent – “I can’t do this any more”. Fortunately for all of us, she called her agent again after a self-imposed sabbatical and together they proceeded down a more carefully-paced career path.

One of the good things about the Menuhin School (there weren’t too many, it seems) was the encouragement to play chamber music with fellow pupils. The love of making music with her peers has remained with her – and that was thrillingly evident in Sunday night’s concert where Kathryn joined first Gillian Ansell and Hannah Fraser (from The Song Company – also resident at the Festival) for the two beautiful Brahms Lieder that have viola obbligato, then Helene Pohl and David Ying for the C minor Beethoven Piano Trio from Opus 1, and finally the New Zealand String Quartet for the Shostakovich Piano Quintet in G minor. What fabulous piano playing: everything beautifully voiced, a really extended palate of sounds and, above all, such alertness to what her companions (all very accomplished, too) are up to.

I’ll be back at the Festival in a couple of days. But for now, I’m retreating to Marahau (an hour away) for some walking and kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Abel Tasman National Park.

Abel Tasman National Park.


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