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APO shines a spotlight on beloved masterworks and strong women in 2018 season

 The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s (APO) 38th season will deliver superb artists, a diverse range of concert experiences for the whole family, toe-tapping contemporary concerts and more to Auckland in 2018.

Highlights from the upcoming season were announced at a free concert at Auckland’s Town Hall this evening, which was also live-streamed for audiences across the world.

APO Chief Executive Barbara Glaser says the vast 2018 season, which targets a wider-than-ever audience, cements APO’s reputation as a champion of live music and artistic innovation in Auckland.  

“We are proud of our diverse programming which we believe caters to a wide range of music lovers, from long-term orchestra attendees to recent converts and young concertgoers,” Glaser says.

In addition to the APO’s ongoing commitment to presenting masterpieces of the orchestral repertoire, Glaser also acknowledges the orchestra’s special focus on women in 2018. This includes a concert marking the 125th anniversary of the suffragette movement in New Zealand, A Woman’s Place, presented in association with Auckland Museum.

“With A Woman’s Place, we are celebrating a milestone, but also making a statement,” Glaser says.

“Women are still fiercely under-represented on the podium, but, in 20 years, it’s going to be a very different story. We could sit around and wait for that, but we are choosing to be part of the change, both with this concert and the fact that we welcome three female conductors in our mainstage season next year, Gemma New, Xian Zhang and Tianyi Lu.”

The APO’s two main concert series, The New Zealand Herald Premier Series and Bayleys Great Classics, are guided by the artistic vision of APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi.

“Both our cornerstone series are a chance for Giordano to bring to Auckland audiences the works he loves, has performed successfully overseas or works he believes orchestral music lovers will be moved by,” Glaser says. 

The New Zealand Herald Premier Series 

The New Zealand Herald Premier Series explores highlights of the orchestral repertoire as well as thrilling premieres and rarely-performed works. This series assembles some of the finest soloists and conductors from New Zealand and around the world across 12 concerts throughout the year.

Among the soloists making their APO debuts are Principal Clarinettist for the Berlin Philharmonic, Austrian Andreas Ottensamer, performing Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No.1, and German baritone Thomas E Bauer performing Mahler and Schubert Songs – in a special programme APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi has conducted twice before in Europe, to delighted audiences.

Returning guests in the 2018 New Zealand Herald Premier series include French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, who thrilled audiences with Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major two years ago. This time he will perform Beethoven’s magnificent ‘Emperor’ Concerto in the season opening concert.

Also returning is much-loved Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter, who will perform Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No.1 in a concert which also includes the highly popular Sibelius Symphony No.1.

Michael Barenboim returns, this time to perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, Kiwi pianist Henry Wong Doe is coming home to play Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2, and the winner of the 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Ioana Cristina Goicea, will perform Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1.

Bach’s towering St. Matthew’s Passion assembles acclaimed choral soloists Sara Macliver, Helen Charlston and Gwilym Bowen alongside the University of Auckland Chamber Choir and returning conductor Stephen Layton, renowned as one of the world’s finest interpreters of Bach’s music.

The APO also continues its commitment to commissioning new works to expand the repertoire. 

In April, the APO will perform its first international co-commission, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new work, Symphonic Movements which has been co-commissioned with Oregon Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. 

Also in April is the world premiere of Ross Harris’ Face, inspired by the pioneering work of New Zealander Harold Gillies in facial reconstructive surgery in WW1. This is a bold new New Zealand work which features three vocal soloists, Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and multimedia by Tim Gruchy (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). The week after the APO concert, Harris’ work will be performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican.

APO Music Director Bellincampi continues to realise his vision of presenting Carl Nielsen’s major works to Auckland audiences. In 2018 he has selected Nielsen’s Violin Concerto, which will be performed by outstanding German violinist Kolja Blacher – a piece of music Bellincampi and Blacher have recorded together before.

Also conducting in the New Zealand Herald Premier Series are Lionel Bringuier, Carlos Miguel Prieto and Alan Buribayev, among others.

Bayleys Great Classics

In 2018, the Bayleys Great Classics series will grow to five concerts of some of the most beloved works in the orchestral repertoire. With plenty of highly recognisable melodies, the Bayleys Great Classics series also provides a gateway to classical music for first-timers.

Soloists in the 2018 Bayley’s Great Classics series include violinist Veronika Eberle performing Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D minor, Li Wei Qin returns to perform Variations on a Rococo Theme by Tchaikovsky, Andrea Lam performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.17 in G major, Arabella Steinbacher playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Jayson Gillham performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1.

Other highlights in the Bayleys Great Classics series are Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4 ‘Italian’, Holst’s exhilarating romp through The Planets, Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic Scheherazade and Mozart’s triumphant Symphony No. 41 ‘Jupiter’.

Trusts Community Foundation Opera in Concert

The 2018, the Trusts Community Foundation Opera in Concert is Verdi’s Aida, presented in association with New Zealand Opera. Italian soprano Maria Luigia Borsi, returning to the APO after her 2015 performance as Desdemona in Otello, will perform the title role in this powerful story of love and war.

Italian tenor Antonello Palombi plays her lover Ramadés, a role he has sung at the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala.

APO on the Shore 

APO has selected two concerts from its main series to bring to North Shore audiences in 2018, ensuring more Aucklanders can see performances of the full orchestra with internationally acclaimed artists: violinist Veronika Eberle in February and pianist Andrea Lam in July. Both concerts at the Bruce Mason Centre will be conducted by Maestro Giordano Bellincampi.

Family Fun

In 2018, the APO introduces new family concerts - events that are sure to surprise and delight even first-time orchestra-goers.

The first is a film with live orchestra performance of the globally popular children’s books The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. These beloved Julia Donaldson stories will play out on the big screen with René Aubrey’s magical musical score performed live by the APO.

The second is Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Nathaniel Stookey’s ‘whodunnit?’ composition-with-narration, The Composer is Dead. This symphonic murder mystery is an exciting and entertaining way to learn more about the instruments in the orchestra.

The new APO family line-up is an extension of the excellent work the organisation has been doing in recent years with its Connecting programme, which sees the APO working with schools and communities across Auckland and presenting a range of concerts and events to inspire and engage young people with orchestral music.

A Woman’s Place

A Woman’s Place is a celebration of the legacy of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. The concert, developed in association with Auckland Museum, will be an exciting mix of classical and contemporary music, inspiring multimedia imagery and the spoken word.

Hosted by Carol Hirschfeld and featuring special guests including former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark and Dame Rosanne Meo, A Woman’s Place will celebrate the extraordinary contribution and achievements of women – past, present and future. The concert repertoire includes Clara Schumann’s haunting Piano Concerto No.1 and New Zealand composer Salina Fisher’s Rainphase and will be conducted by Tianyi Lu.

Lu is currently Assistant Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She first realised her aspirations to become a conductor when she undertook a conducting masterclass in 2009 within the APO Connecting programme.

Together with APO

The mirror balls will be spinning for APO Does Disco starring Aaradhna, Laughton Kora and Esther Stephens. This one-night only concert of pure disco gold will transport the audience to New York’s legendary Studio 54 with hits like ‘That’s the Way I Like It, ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘Disco Inferno’.

Renowned trumpeter and jazz legend James Morrison returns after his sell-out show in 2015, this time for James Morrison – A celebration of Ella and Louis. Morrison, together with vocalist Emma Pask, will take audiences on a journey into the music and lives of two of the jazz world’s biggest names performing enduring hits from the Great American Songbook..

In Sh-Boom, Australia-based Kiwi crooners The Koi Boys (Danny Faifai, Kevin Keepa and Ngahere "Nuz" Ngatai) will prove why they shot to fame in the 2016 season of The Voice Australia. On the show they blew judges away with their rendition of 1954 rock ‘n’ roll classic Sh-Boom, but their concert with the APO will include everything from Motown classics to contemporary hits.  

In 2018, the APO continues its association with the Auckland Arts Festival. This time performing in two works; the English National Ballet’s stunning reinterpretation of the classic romantic ballet, Giselle, choreographed by superstar choreographer Akram Khan, and a new production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide presented in partnership with New Zealand Opera.  

The APO’s ever-popular Unwrap the Music series returns to delight audiences with its deep-dive into the inner workings of masterpieces, and throughout the year APO musicians will venture into all corners of Auckland with the In Your Neighbourhood series, a three-concert programme of chamber music. For the first time, this series will also include a performance on Waiheke Island.

Subscriptions for 2018 APO Season are on sale from 21 September, with subscribers receiving priority bookings and savings on individual ticket prices. Subscribe before Friday 26 January to go in the draw to win a seven-day Italian Riveria cruise with Crystal Cruises.  

Season brochures are available online here or by phoning APO Ticketing on (09) 623 1052.

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