News - 04 Jul 2023

Introducing the Forsyth Barr concert Celebrating Matariki – Whakanuia Matariki : Conductor Brent Stewart

I’m thrilled to be conducting such a palpable and exciting programme with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

I’m thrilled to be conducting such a palpable and exciting programme with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra. We celebrate the idea of renewal associated with Matariki through a concert that initiates in darkness, employing gentle and intimate hues that evoke a sense of gathering. As the performance progresses, vibrant colour and bursts of light intensify, leading us towards what could be considered one of the most remarkable musical accomplishments in history — Mozart's ultimate and most magnificent symphony, No.41, also known as Jupiter.

Celebrating Matariki begins with the fusion of orchestra and taonga pūoro. This is exceptionally special, as taonga pūoro traditionally involves improvisation making for a unique journey: from the composer's vision, to rehearsals and finally to the performance. In this context, the composer’s score serves as a structured canvas and sonic landscape for taonga pūoro soloist Ariana Tikao to perform upon, making each performance one- of-a-kind.

I had the pleasure of recently meeting with featured composers Philip Brownlee and Gillian Whitehead to discuss their respective works, and there was such a great sense of excitement around composing specifically for Ariana Tikao, and how taonga pūoro’s uniquely improvised style creates a far more collaborative experience for the composer. Gillian Whitehead's composition, Ngā whetū o Matariki, was commissioned by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and will make its world première at this concert.

I’m so excited to finish with a testament to the enduring brilliance of classical music with its captivating melodies, vibrant orchestration, and expressive qualities captivating audiences and musicians for centuries - Mozart’s Symphony No. 41. This work will enchant both the seasoned classical music connoisseur and the curious listener alike. Composed in 1788 during a tumultuous period in Mozart's life, it shines as a striking reflection of his unwavering artistic brilliance despite personal and financial hardships. Symphony No. 41 serves as a profound illustration of Mozart's determination to create a musical marvel even amidst adversity. Its intricate composition, harmonic richness, and innovative form reveal a depth of creativity that remains unmatched. This symphony not only showcases Mozart's extraordinary musical prowess but also provides a poignant glimpse into his life, reminding us of his enduring legacy as one of the greatest composers of all time. Hearing this masterpiece live is simply unmissable!

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