This is the place to get the latest news on chamber music in New Zealand, read special features on artists, music and events, and find out what the critics have to say about our most recent concert tours.
Chamber Music New Zealand had numerous delights lined up on Monday night for its last concert of the season. As well as a new Gillian Whitehead commission and another opportunity to hear the fine pianist Michael Endres, we were introduced to a young ensemble making its name on the international circuit.
Participation, energy and fun were the key ingredients in a performance in the Wellington Town Hall on Wednesday 24 October by the Enso String Quartet from the United States, students from Kimi Ora School in Wellington and community musician Julian Raphael.
At 71, Gillian Whitehead is one of our most distinguished composers. Yet one is struck by the humility of the woman; "You don't have to mention that," she laughs, when I bring up the damehood conferred on her in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Composers are often drawn to the musical equivalent of the challenge that faced Jesus feeding the multitude. Most of Bach's Art of Fugue was wrought from a mere 12-note theme and Beethoven famously created 33 variations on one innocuous little waltz by Anton Diabelli.
A fine day, an early-evening concert and a programme with enough variety to show off five world-class wind players – all deeply satisfying. No piece was particularly knotty, or without substance, but each had an ear-tickling affection for the timbres of a wind quintet.
We live in an age that puts great store on expertise. Panels of experts decide art prizes and confirm medical diagnoses. And so it is with music. The many ensembles that Chamber Music New Zealand tours are prime examples of what happens when you bring together a group of top-class musicians to focus on a specific area of repertoire.
The audience were given a concert full of subtleties from both soprano Madeleine Pierard and pianist Terence Dennis in a programme which mainly focused on lieder with a couple of Italian operatic gems.
Top young New Zealand chamber music ensemble Geist is heading to China in September to perform with well-known New Zealand pianist John Chen. Geist will perform at the New Zealand Music Festival in Shanghai on Saturday 22 September.
In 2005, Madeleine Pierard capped off her Lexus Song Quest victory with an effervescent Una poco voce fa and, just last month, she triumphed in the Royal Opera House production of Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims.
Madeleine Pierard is a highly regarded Young Artist with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and this tour sees the Lexus Song Quest winner on a welcome return home, to appear in concert with her sister, Anna, who also has an impressive international background.
This was a slightly unusual programme – vocal rather than instrumental which is the norm for chamber music concerts – featuring two very talented Napier singers – sisters Anna and Madeleine Pierard, together with pianist Terence Dennis.
The Westlake Girls High School quartet of Lauren Bennett (violin), Britta Balzat (violin), Sophis Lee (viola) and Sally Kim (cello) were judged top in the country at the National Final held tonight in Auckland.
A musical feast ranging from Mendelssohn, Debussy and Shostakovich to Bacewicz and Babajanian, with a side of US contemporary and a substantial Kiwi dessert, might seem like the banquet of one's dreams.
A piano rescued from earthquake rubble has been fully restored and will be played in an upcoming concert. The Steinway D 9' grand piano, which belongs to the Civic Music Council, was buried in the Christchurch Art Centre's Great Hall after the February 2011 quake.
The 2012 National Final of the NZCT Chamber Music Contest will take place this weekend on the 3rd and 4th of August in Auckland. Since entries opened in February for the District rounds, hundreds of students have been working hard to be able to showcase the best of their musical abilities.
It is difficult to find superlatives to describe the expressive musicality and flawless technique of this string quartet, justifiably considered to be the best in the world at present. It was indeed a privilege to be at their concert.
Next week sees the welcome return of one of the world's top chamber ensembles when the Takacs Quartet sets off on its five-centre New Zealand tour. I caught up with cellist Andras Fejer who founded the group back in 1975. For this Hungarian, a career in chamber music was inevitable.
One of the great pleasures of Chamber Music New Zealand's concerts over the years has been the regular visits by the Takacs Quartet. Since founding in 1975 they have had just three changes in personnel, the latest in 2005 being the replacement of violist Roger Tapping by the superb Geraldine Walther.
Chamber Music New Zealand was proud to present the 2011 Michael Hill International Violin Competition Winner on tour this year, Sergey Malov. The tour was part of the talented musician’s prize winnings and while it was no doubt a rewarding experience it was also a mammoth undertaking.
A year ago, in the Auckland Town Hall, Sergey Malov was the star of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. No Brahms or Tchaikovsky for this young Russian - he carried off top honours with Bartok.