News - 15 Feb 2024

Packed year for DSO

National and international stars combine with the best in local musicianship in the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s 2024 season, announced this week. - Brenda Harwood, The Star

National and international stars combine with the best in local musicianship in the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s 2024 season, announced this week.

DSO general manager Philippa Harris said, as the orchestra returned to a more normal footing following the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, it had appointed James Judd as principal guest conductor.

"We are delighted to have Maestro Judd in that role — he is a terrific conductor, who is connected with a vast network or artists, and has a huge knowledge of the repertoire," Ms Harris said.

"It has been very good to have the benefit of that as we have been planning for our 2024 concert series — it has influenced some of the artists and repertoire involved."

The orchestra will begin the year with two contrasting musical experiences.

The first will be a trip to Christchurch to perform as part of the ‘Synthony’ in the 2024 Electric Avenue Festival in Hagley Park on February 24.

Then the players will take a step back in time, accompanying City Choir Dunedin in its performance of J.S. Bach’s dramatic oratorio St John Passion, on March 24, at Dunedin Town Hall.

The DSO’s International Series will be a feast of music-making, with three concerts showcasing virtuoso performances on french horn, violin and taonga pūoro, along with singing stars from all over.

The International One concert, "Beethoven, Brahms and Strauss", on April 20 at Dunedin Town Hall, will feature guest conductor Matthias Bamert and NZSO principal french horn Samuel Jacobs playing Richard Strauss’ French Horn Concerto No. 1.

"This is a very impressive and difficult concerto, so we are pleased to have a french horn player of Samuel’s calibre to play it with us," Ms Harris said.

The International Two concert, "Journeys", on July 6, will celebrate Matariki by taking the audience on a spiritual journey from the soundscapes of Māori, sea and nature in Michael Norris’ Rerenga, with Alistair Fraser on taonga pūoro.

Conducted by James Judd, the concert will also feature Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 "Turkish", played by NZSO concertmaster Vesa-Matti Lepannen; Mahler’s Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, performed by Jonathan Lemalu; and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 7.

The International Three concert, "Mozart’s Requiem" on August 24, will combine the DSO with City Choir Dunedin, conductor Umberto Clerici, and top-notch soloists Emma Pearson (soprano), Maaike Christie-Beekman (alto), Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono (tenor), and Wade Kernot (bass).

The DSO’s popular Matinee Series, at the Kings & Queens Performing Arts Centre, will feature two sets of concerts on August 3 and 4, and September 21 and 22.

Matinee One, "Bach and the Birds", will be conducted by James Judd and include Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, featuring DSO concertmaster Tessa Petersen, and section principals Luca Manghi (flute), Nick Cornish (oboe), and Ralph Miller (trumpet).

Soprano Rebecca Ryan will join the orchestra to perform Four New Zealand Bird Songs by Rob Biss, in a programme that will also feature works by Telemann and Haydn.

Matinee Two, "Other Lands", will be led by 2024 New Zealand assistant conductor Ingrid Martin, taking the audience on a multi-country journey.

A highlight of the concert will be Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez, performed by Australian guitarist Karin Schaupp. The programme will also feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, and works by British composer Ruth Gipps and Australian composer Betty Beath.

The DSO’s 2024 season will conclude with a high-spirited showcase of pop in "DSO plays ABBA", featuring hits by the Swedish pop group adapted for the orchestra and conducted by Tom Rainey. An array of experienced and up-and-coming singers will sing the songs.

Ms Harris said the orchestra was "in good heart" and keen to dive into a busy year.

"It is very nice to be getting back to normality," she said.

Along with its concert programmes, the orchestra was also planning a busy education programme for the year, including the DSO Academy, schools tours, student composers workshop, "play with the orchestra", and pre-concert talks.

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