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APO and AAF to join worldwide Beethoven birthday celebrations in 2020

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) and Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) are joining in the global festivities celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020. Beethoven 250 is a series of events celebrating the life and works of the great composer presented in March next year as part of Auckland Arts Festival 2020.

The first major 2020 Auckland Arts Festival event to be released, the centrepiece of Beethoven 250 is a series of four concerts over nine days featuring Beethoven’s nine symphonies. Conducted by APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi, audiences will experience the evolution of Beethoven’s music. Bellincampi has a particular love of the composer and his Beethoven performances with the APO have received fantastic critical and audience reviews.

“We are thrilled that our city’s beloved APO will perform Beethoven’s symphony cycle for the first time to mark this momentous musical anniversary. Auckland Arts Festival is the platform for artists to strike out boldly and this festival within a festival is the APO at its most confident,” says AAF Artistic Director Jonathan Bielski.

Symphony No.9 will feature the talents of four New Zealand soloists – soprano Madeleine Pierard, mezzo soprano Kristin Darragh, tenor Amitai Pati and baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes – and an ensemble of singers from Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand to help bring the festival to a joyous close.

“Beethoven is undoubtedly one of the most beloved composers in the world. His nine symphonies are considered a pinnacle achievement in the symphonic canon and we’re thrilled to be able to showcase this wonderful body of work to its full potential as part of Auckland Arts Festival,” says APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi.

Alongside the four concerts, APO is commissioning new works inspired by Beethoven from New Zealand composers Gillian Whitehead, Chris Gendall, Alex Taylor and Celeste Oram. These pieces will be performed by the talented musicians from the APO Young Achievers programme during a free chamber concert and speaker series, Ludwig Reflected. Each performance will include a talk that delves deeper into the fascinating life and times of Beethoven.

Musicians of all skill levels who love Beethoven can join the celebration in the community Big Play-In performing selected extracts from his Ninth Symphony. The special event will pair community and student musicians with their APO counterparts. Music will be specially arranged by a New Zealand composer so musicians of all levels – from beginners to advanced players – can join in.

“Early next year we’ll be putting out the call to the whole Auckland community to dust off their instruments and ready their voices to join us for this big community celebration to experience the joy of performing Beethoven,” says Bellincampi.

“We’re also delighted to present a range of enrichment events which enable audiences to not only hear the orchestra perform his symphonies, but also provide the opportunity for Aucklanders to immerse themselves in the genius of Beethoven and enhance their festival experience.”

Selected events in Beethoven 250 will be suitable for people with visual and hearing challenges. Relaxed, open access rehearsals will be held with a sign language facilitator present and visually-impaired audience members will have the opportunity to experience the instruments up close with a Touch Tour. All pre-concert talks will also be New Zealand Sign Language interpreted.

The various events comprising Beethoven 250 are presented by Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in association with Auckland Arts Festival and Auckland Live.

The Classicist
7.30pm, Saturday 21 March 2020
Auckland Town Hall
Symphonies No.1, 2, 3

The Romantic
7.30pm, Tuesday 24 March 2020
Auckland Town Hall
Symphonies No.4, 5

The Revolutionary
7.30pm, Thursday March 26 2020
Auckland Town Hall
Symphonies No.6, 7

The Radical
5pm, Sunday 29 March 2020
Auckland Town Hall
Symphonies No.8, 9

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