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19 October 2017 / News
The NZSQ and pipa virtuoso extraordinaire Wu Man recently collaborated in an exhilarating concert which united the musical forces of the East and West and the unique sounds of the pipa with string quartet.
Wu Man is best known for her regular collaborations with the Kronos Quartet and tours with the Silk Road ensemble, founded by internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Her performances on the lute-like pipa have relaunched the reputation of this 2000 year-old instrument in the West, with multiple Grammy Award nominations and Musical America naming her 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year. Our concert with her in Wellington marked the end of a week-long ‘pipa festival’, supported by the Confucius Institute and The New Zealand School of Music, including intriguing talks and seminars given by Wu Man and intensive rehearsals with the NZSQ.
While rehearsing with Wu Man, we were transported into the realms of traditional and contemporary Chinese music. It was striking to hear the musical lyricism and character Wu Man brought to the pipa. This instrument is humble in appearance and looks quite fragile. Yet in the skillful hands of Wu Man we were drawn into the multiple tone colours and voices this instrument is capable of, ranging from soaring cantabile lines to percussive effects when special techniques are engaged.
The NZSQ has previously collaborated with Asian performers and composers, both in New Zealand and abroad, but for me personally it was so intriguing to enter this sound world. Many of the works we performed drew on influences from Chinese opera, requiring performers to be fully committed and often theatrical in their musical gestures - including yelling out and stomping on the ground with absolute conviction! Some works carried a sense of continual agitation and frenzy, as could be heard in Tan Dun’s Concerto for Pipa and Quartet and his wonderful string quartet Eight Colours.
For me, it was exciting to have the opportunity to perform Tabea Squire's duo for violin and pipa entitled Chimaera. Tabea is a New Zealand composer and graduate of the New Zealand School of Music. She created a virtuosic and deeply interwoven conversation between the violin and pipa that was full of fire, drama and energy.
Other works on the programme, such as Butterfly Love by He Zhanghao/Chen Gang and Red Lantern by Zhao Lin (adapted from the sound track to the film Raise the Red Lantern) were more serene in quality, reflecting the positive and open character associated with traditional Chinese folk music.
All in all, this concert had an electric atmosphere, with a buzzing audience surrounded by the soaring architecture and acoustics of the newly-renovated St Mary of the Angels Church in Wellington. For me, this concert really highlighted the incredible power music has in joining and uniting cultures of the world.
20 December 2017 / NewsEarlier this month we collaborated with the Goethe-Institut in Wellington to present a concert of Beethoven quartets for their subscribers, students and supporters. The Goethe-Institut is Germany’s cultural institute, known worldwide for promoting the study of German language abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange. Read More
20 December 2017 / NewsIt was wonderful to return to China last month to re-connect with colleagues Shen Nalin and Gao Ping, as well as our friends from the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra, and to perform in some state-of-the-art concerts halls in Hangzhou, Chengdu and Beijing. Gillian sums it up when she says: Read More
20 December 2017 / NewsFrom 10-18 February 2018, Nelson will once again host 30 of the country's top young chamber musicians for eight intensive days of rehearsals, coaching, masterclasses and performances at the Adam Summer School. We're delighted to announce two new tutors who will join the NZSQ this year: Stephen De Pledge and Elke Dunlop. Read More