NZ Music week

"The opening concert of New Zealand Music Week proved to be interesting and varied, with works by new and established composers. Stroma, conducted by Hamish McKeich, comprises members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and other professional musicians. The 19 performers played in various instrumental configurations throughout the concert.

Recent Auckland University Masters graduate, Rachel Clement's knitting dust represents its pursuit of an impossible outcome with effective frantic and elusive moments from Bridget Douglas on flute and piccolo, and Ed Allen on horn. Double bass, cello, played and struck piano and percussion provided impetus and interest.

Devil On A Wire, by Lissa Meridan-Skipp, also a recent Masters graduate from Auckland, but now teaching at Victoria University, used electroacoustic sounds mixed with live, rich and edgy amplified cello (Rowan Prior) to create a new, but retro-sounding, well realised piece.

Chris Watson, a composition Masters student at Victoria University, demonstrated his understanding of the piano in his accomplished Piano Quintet. This was a spiky, pointillistic work with a strong percussive drive.Emma Sayers (piano) and string ensemble the Felix Quartet gave a performance which delighted the composer and audience.

English-born composer James Gardner, now resident in New Zealand, provided a titillating title, Fetish Effigies, and a satisfyingly interesting piece. Written for 10 players, the piano (Donald Nicholson, who provided outstanding playing throughout the evening) and percussion, (Strike's Murray Hickman) drove the work to its exciting and abrupt conclusion. The second part of the concert began with Ross Harris' clever, whimsical and witty Contra-Music. This featured Hamish McKeich on a galumphing contrabassoon accompanied by two groups, each consisting of bass clarinet, trombone and drumkit.

A complete contrast was offered by Philip Brownlee's evocative and atmospheric work for solo flute, Harakeke. This was performed with total commitment and virtuosity by Bridget Douglas, utilising a full range of flute-playing techniques. The final piece, John Rimmer's The Ripple Effect, was tightly written and sustained its momentum. Built around the horn (well played by Ed Allen) it was perhaps the most satisfying work of the evening and brought this exciting and innovative concert to a rousing conclusion."

— Evening Post, 14 May 2001

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