Manawatu Sinfonia
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Manawatu Sinfonia
Conductor: Peter van Drimmelen, Soloist: Christy Hunter (flute)
Speirs Centre, Palmerston North. Sunday, May 21.

REVIEW: Sunday's concert by the Manawatu Sinfonia was a "celebration" in the finest sense of the word as the orchestra celebrated its golden jubilee with a concert of great variety, all very listenable, but one that, at the same time, provided plenty of challenges for all players.

The brass section of the orchestra took the limelight with two fanfares, one to open each half of the concert.

The first fanfare was a little-known one by Paul Dukas, but it provided a strong opening, while the second was Copeland's popular Fanfare for the Common Man, always a stirring piece and delightful to hear it handled so well by these players.

Flutist Christy Hunter took the stage for Reinecke's Flute Concerto, a cheerful work with a virtuosic final movement, all given a superbly sympathetic performance by Hunter, who was well supported by the orchestra.

The second half included Zoetrope – Wheel of Life, the premiere of a striking work by local composer Nick Hunter.

This was a very committed performance by the Sinfonia with variety and contrast to the fore. The excitement generated by this fascinating work was evident throughout and the performance much appreciated by the audience.

The concert finished with a great performance of the first movement of Bruckner's Symphony No 4, another much-loved work, and the perfect finish to a concert, which conductor Peter van Drimmelen must have found most satisfying.

This concert provided excellent testament to the importance of the Sinfonia in our community over the past 50 years.

Bringing so many players together while providing fine opportunities for local soloists and composers ensures that our vibrant musical community has much to be proud of as it contributes so generously to the well-being of the city.

Date: Sunday 21 May 2017, at 2.30pm.

This is the Sinfonia's Golden Jubilee concert. Concerts by the Sinfonia commenced with a performance in Marton on 29 April 1967, repeated on 27 May at Horowhenua College, Levin.

Venue: Speirs Centre, Palmerston North Boys High School, Featherston Street.

Conductor: Peter van Drimmelen.

Paul Dukas, Fanfare to precede La Péri
Carl Reinecke, Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 283 (with soloist Christy Hunter)
Aaron Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
Nick Hunter, Zoetrope-Wheel of Life (premiere performance)
Anton Bruckner, Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, first movement

Paul Dukas, Fanfare to precede La Péri

Paul Abraham Dukas (1865-1935) was an intensely self-critical composer, destroying or hiding many of his works. We are lucky to still have La Péri, which he wrote in 1911 as a ballet in one act. At the last minute before the premiere production of the ballet in 1912, Dukas added a brilliant fanfare prelude for brass instruments. This fanfare displays the special character of each instrument while creating an air of excitement and expectation. Amongst Dukas’ works, it is exceeded in popularity only by The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, whose international fame was ensured by its use in Walt Disney’s animated movie Fantasia. La Péri was to be Dukas' last complete work. He retired from active composing at age 47 but as a professor of composition went on to teach such famous pupils as Olivier Messaien and Manuel de Falla.

Carl Reinecke, Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 283 (with soloist Christy Hunter)

Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) was a virtuoso pianist and a legendary teacher of composition whose students included Grieg. He wrote his D major flute concerto, virtually the only Romantic flute concerto still in the repertoire, in 1908 at age 84. Reinecke's music harks back to Mendelssohn and Schumann, rather than reflecting the state of musical composition in the early twentieth century. The Flute Concerto shows the dramatic and expressive writing he produced at his best. The opening Allegro molto moderato is the most symphonic of the three, with virtuoso writing for the soloist. In the slow movement, Lento e mesto, the orchestra yields the stage to the flute, with its mournful aria-like solo in B minor. The work closes with a more upbeat finale.

Aaron Copland (1900-1990), Fanfare for the Common Man
In the late 1930s, Aaron Copland opted for an approachable musical language, incorporating jazz-inspired rhythms and elements of folk music and popular songs, that he hoped would woo audiences back into concert halls. A fine example of this music for everyone is the Fanfare for the Common Man, which Copland wrote as his contribution to a set of fanfares written by different composers at the outset of America's entry into World War II. He described his fanfare as a work to bring honour to 'the common man, who, after all, was doing all the dirty work in the war and in the army'.

Zoetrope-Wheel of Life is a new orchestral composition written for the Manawatu Sinfonia and made possible with a grant from the Earle creativity trust in 2015. A zoetrope is a 19th-century barrel-like mechanical device that creates an early form of simple animation on a loop. ‘Wheel of life’ is its translation, the name being coined from the Greek words for life and turning. (See for further information.)

The title is inspired by the composer's daughter, Zoey (meaning life), and was written throughout her first year. The work creates a feeling of wheel-like, rhythmical sequences that tell a story and draw the listener into a new sound world. The opening repeated chords heard throughout the work are cyclic in nature, perhaps signifying the turning seasons/phases of life.

Joseph Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major, 'Romantic', first movement Bewegt, nicht zu schnell ('animated, not too fast')
Bruckner composed his Symphony No. 4 between January 2 and November 22, 1874, later revising it extensively from 1878 to 1880. By 1874 he had staked a firm place in Viennese musical life as professor, performer and composer. One of the great organ virtuosos of his time, he reportedly performed to an audience of 70,000 at Crystal Palace during a visit to London in 1871. Although he had minor successes with his sacred works it was his discovery of the music of Liszt and Wagner that confirmed his direction as a composer. This symphony is the only one of his nine to which he gave a subtitle and some critics have seen it as a tone poem. In a letter to a fellow composer he sketched a programme for the symphony, in which this movement is described as follows: "The intention is to depict the horn that proclaims the day from the town hall! Then life goes on; in the the second subject the theme is birdsong." In the opening subject of the movement, which evolves in leisurely fashion over seventy-four bars, the solo horn is given pride of place from the outset. It introduces a haunting melody that seems to hover between major and minor modes above nearly silent string tremolos. Presently other wind instruments join in and then the melody is elevated to a grand peroration for full orchestration. The second theme group arrives with a lighter texture and a cheerful dance-like tune.

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 has also adjudicated for local ensembles and 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.

Nick Hunter graduated with a BMus (2005) in performance piano from Massey University, Wellington, under Richard Mapp, after receiving a scholarship from Palmerston North City Council. Nick currently teaches piano, composes, is a popular accompanist and performs in concerts throughout the lower North Island, together with his wife, flutist Christy. He has written several solo and chamber works that he and Christy have premiered as well as works for student ensembles that have been performed at chamber music contests and concerts. In 2012 Nick published a collection of solo flute pieces titled 'Cascade and other pieces for solo flute’. This book has been added to the NZMEB flute exam syllabus, is available through SOUNZ and has been featured in the American National Flute Association's 'Flutist Quarterly' magazine.

Christy Hunter studied at Victoria University gaining a BMus (2004) in flute performance under Bridget Douglas. As a seventeen year old, Christy was selected as a soloist for the Michael Monaghan Young Musicians Foundation Concert to play with members of the NZSO. In 2001 Christy was the major recipient of a Trust award from the Palmerston North Rotary Club for a new flute. She is currently teaching flute both privately and in Palmerston North high schools. She has enjoyed performing with the Victoria University Orchestra, the Wellington and National Youth Orchestras and the Taupo Festival Orchestra. In April 2013 she made a solo appearance playing Mozart's D major flute Concerto with the Manawatu Sinfonia. Christy has had lessons and masterclasses with international flutists such as Marianne Gedigian, Deiter Flury, Eric Lamb, Robert Pot, George Pope and Alexa Still. She also regularly performs in a duo with her husband, pianist, Nick.


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