Manawatu Sinfonia
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Manawatu Sinfonia 15 May 2016

May 15th, 2016, at 2.30pm

Speirs Centre, Palmerston North Boys High School, Featherston Street, Palmerston North

Manawatu Sinfonia

Conductor: Peter van Drimmelen (see below for biographical notes)

Soloist: Angela Cook (see below for biographical notes)


Anthony Ritchie, 'Remember Parihaka'.

Mozart, Piano Concerto in D minor.

Beethoven, Symphony no. 8.

The Ritchie item marks the 150th anniversary of the Parihaka settlement and the 10th anniversary of the 'Peace Festival' there.

On 5 November 1881 a detachment of 120 Armed Constabulary, augmented by around 1500 volunteers, took part in an attack on Parihaka, a settlement in western Taranaki which had become the symbol of protest against the confiscation of Maori land. Its primary leaders were Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. Te Whiti and Tohu employed tactics of non-violent non-cooperation, ploughing and fencing land that had been occupied by settlers. The government responded to their protests by passing laws aimed specifically at the Parihaka protesters. On the morning of the attack more than 2000 villagers sat quietly on the marae. According to Gilbert Mair, who acted as aide-de-camp to the commander, the troops were first confronted by 'about 200 little boys' who 'danced splendidly'. A second line of defence was then formed by '60 girls with skipping ropes'. Captain W B Messenger recalled that there was 'a line of children across the entrance to the big village, a kind of singing class directed by an old man with a stick. The children sat there unmoving...and even when a mounted officer galloped up and pulled his horse up so short that the dirt from its forefeet spattered the children they still went on chanting.' Among the children was the future Maori medical practitioner and Minister of Health, Sir Maui Pomare. Trampling by a cavalry horse on this day left him with a permanent limp. Parihaka’s leaders were arrested, the village was destroyed and most of its inhabitants were dispersed. Many of the prisoners were sent to the South Island in semi-secrecy and sentenced without proper trial to forced labour on road works and bridge-building in Dunedin and Invercargill. The Parihaka community recently agreed a deed of settlement and a $70m compensation package with the Crown. The formal process of settlement is due to be concluded this year. (With acknowledgements to Dick Scott, Ask that Mountain; Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand; and the Waitangi Tribunal report on Parihaka.) The music might be interpreted as illustrating some of these episodes. High rapid woodwind passages perhaps suggest the children skipping and singing, rough double-stopped passages in the strings the charging of the horses and the marching of the constabulary and volunteers. The piece begins as if with the breaking of dawn and fades away to silence again at the conclusion.

Anthony Ritchie is currently a senior lecturer in composition at The University of Otago in Dunedin. He studied composition at Canterbury University and the Liszt Academy in Hungary before becoming Composer-in-Schools in Christchurch in 1987. He moved to Dunedin in 1988 to be Mozart Fellow in composition at Otago University and later was Composer-in-residence with the Dunedin Sinfonia. He freelanced from 1995-2002, writing many commissioned works, including film music in collaboration with Natural History NZ. He has over 150 compositions to his credit, many of which have been performed overseas. The CD "Remember Parihaka" was released in 2009, including his widely performed Flute Concerto, written for Alexa Still. A new album of his piano music "Expressions" was released in 2010 featuring pianist Tom McGrath. In 2011 the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra released a CD of Anthony's orchestral music, including his recently composed Symphony No.3, premiered at the Otago Festival of Arts in 2010. (Notes excerpted from the Anthony Ritchie website, with acknowledgements.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Concerto No. 20 in D minor for Piano and Orchestra, K.466

Mozart entered this concerto into his catalogue on 10 February 1785 and the very next day was soloist at the first performance, without having had time to play through the final Rondo movement in advance. K.466 is one of only two Mozart concertos in a minor key. Given the stormy character of both the first and final movements, the young Beethoven naturally excelled as one of this concerto’s early performers and wrote for it a pair of powerfully expressive cadenzas that will be performed at this concert. (Mozart’s own cadenzas have not survived.) The second movement, titled Romanza (‘Romance’), marks a calm and songful respite from the agitation of the outer movements. During the nineteenth century, at a time when Mozart was mostly perceived as a gifted forerunner of Beethoven, the D minor Concerto was the only one of his piano concertos to hold a firm place in the repertoire.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Symphony no. 8

Beethoven's Eighth has been described as one of the shortest, weirdest, but most compelling symphonies of the nineteenth century. Its first public performance, in 1814 in Vienna, put it in the same truly marathon concert as the Seventh Symphony and Beethoven’s now much derided tribute piece ‘Wellington's Victory’. The first movement, marked Allegro vivace con brio, is in sonata form. Breaking with convention, the Symphony features no slow second movement (Beethoven did sketch one but abandoned it) but instead an Allegretto scherzando; some scholars have interpreted it as a homage to the inventor of a new improved metronome. This movement – like the Symphony as a whole – is characterised by extremes of dynamic, with fortissimo often placed side by side with pianissimo. The third movement, Beethoven's only symphonic minuet, represents an experiment with loosely minuet form, with an especially expansive Trio that evokes country dance bands and could be seen as anticipating Dvorak. The final movement, marked as Allegro vivace and composed in a rondo-sonata form, has similarly humorous touches to the second movement.

Peter van Drimmelen was born in Holland and studied violin at the Rotterdam Conservatory and viola at the Utrecht Conservatory. He was Sub-Principal viola in a choir-accompanying orchestra in Delft and then a member of the Auckland Philharmonia from 1983 to 1987; this included two years as violist in the Auckland String Quartet. He conducted three ASQ Summer School orchestra projects during that time. While in the NZSO, which he joined in 1987, he conducted the Wellington Chamber Orchestra numerous times and also the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra (Auckland), the Nelson Symphony Orchestra, and the Manawatu Sinfonia on an near-annual basis since 2003. He also adjudicated for local ensembles, and since 2014 does this on an annual basis for the KBB Festival in Auckland. In 1996 Peter set up the Michael Monaghan Young Musicians Foundation, to encourage young musicians to audition for an opportunity to play a concerto movement with a professional orchestra with volunteers from the NZSO and Wellington Orchestra. This opportunity was given to over 100 teenagers in the 14 years that Peter ran the Monaghan Foundation (MMYMF). The last concert was in 2009 and it was only recently decided that the remaining funds are going to be transferred to the Alex Lyndsay Trust, operated by NZSO players, to give young musicians nationwide a chance of gaining a grant to help them in their musical career. Peter has made numerous recordings for Radio NZ. He retired from the NZSO in May 2014 and, aside from continuing numerous musical activities, he drives buses for Tranzit Coach Lines during the busy cruise-ship season in Wellington.

Angela Cook grew up in England and began learning the piano at the age of four, receiving her ALCM before she left high school. She then continued her piano studies at Manchester University under the guidance of Peter Donohoe and later Kath Parry Jones. Having gained her Bachelor of Music with Honours, along with her Teacher's Certificate the following year, she immediately found a job teaching music and mathematics at Wellington Road High School for Girls in Cheshire UK. This must have been a sign of things to come because six years later, together with husband David and their three children, she moved to Wellington in New Zealand where her husband took up a position at Wellington Women's Hospital. Angela continued her piano accompanying and established a private teaching practice at home whilst raising her family (now increased to four children).When they moved to Palmerston North in 1993 Angela became a member of the Registered Institute of Music Teachers and established the Sunday Afternoon Concert Series at Te Manawa (now in its 23rd year), where she played regularly as soloist and accompanist and with many chamber music groups. She also composed music for PNBHS students to perform at the Secondary School Chamber Music competitions. She has a busy teaching studio in the city and also teaches students in Masterton and the Wairarapa where she lives with her husband David on a newly acquired organic farm near Carterton. From 2013 Angela has been the Music Director of The Wairarapa Singers and has conducted several concerts where musicians from the Manawatu have joined with them, the latest joint venture being Mozart's Requiem. She recently composed a march to commemorate the centenary of the crossing over the Rimutaka Hill from Featherston to Trentham Camp by soldiers going off to WW1. Angela commutes from Masterton to Palmerston North every week in order to continue to teach piano at her studio in Longburn and very much enjoys her dual life.



Stephen Fisher:

REVIEW: For their first concert of the year, Manawatu Sinfonia chose a delightfully appealing programme featuring popular works by Mozart and Beethoven. They opened the concert with a most evocative work by New Zealand composer Anthony Richie – Remember Parihaka.
The latter work marks a momentous occasion in our nation's history as government troops entered Parihaka to be met by children at play, offering the soldiers their food. Disastrous consequences followed this passive resistance, all beautifully characterised both in the work and in this appropriately thoughtful rendition by the Sinfonia.
Mozart's Piano Concerto in D minor is considered one of his great masterpieces, the celebrated slow movement making frequent appearances in today's popular culture. The choice of Angela Cook as soloist was indeed pleasing, marking her enormous contribution to music in Palmerston North, continuing even as the family has moved to the Wairarapa in recent years.
While this performance may not have been flawless, it was characterised by an arresting impetus that ensured the energy required by Mozart's score was always to the fore in an indisputably attractive interpretation by Cook, masterfully balanced by a most supportive orchestra.
The second half of the concert featured Beethoven's charming Symphony No 8, always easy on the ear and here given a most sympathetic reading that continually revealed the inherent beauty of the work.
Van Drimmelen has obviously developed a pleasing rapport with the Manawatu Sinfonia, and this always works well both for the players and their chosen music, here, again, revealed in a most enjoyable concert.


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