Extended family of musicians and dancers for Rolf

01 July 2015 / News

Cellist Rolf Gjelsten spent June touring the country with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Army band for the season of Salute, and managed to fit in a performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in Auckland with the St. Matthew's Chamber Orchestra. Whilst on tour, he wrote about some of his experiences.

I'm getting to know three large and extraordinary families this month as I tour for four weeks around the country with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Army Band and take a solo spot on the side with the St. Matthew's Chamber Orchestra in Auckland.

For the ballet 'Salute', Gareth Farr has written a powerfully moving work for the unlikely combination of solo cello and brass band. The cello takes on a personal voice as the Army Band portrays the emotional pain of war. This is one of four pieces that make up the Royal New Zealand Ballet's commemoration of WW1. I'm admiring the discipline and professionalism of both organisations. I had no idea how many hours the dancers warm up, take classes and have rehearsals, all before each night's performance. They also have open warm-ups and classes for the public, as well as interviews and receptions after concerts! On stage they float to a different gravitational force. It's a very classy organisation, with two ballet masters and the artistic director constantly guiding and refining the dancers' moves.

The Army Band are the only fully professional brass band in the country. They make a beautiful mellow sound with their conical bores such as cornets, flugelhorns and euphoniums. They not only practise their music, but have a unique brand of marching, including their own powerful haka! In breaks I see them challenging each other to push-ups to get ready for their next monthly physical test! They are a diverse group of musicians of all ages, and I'm inspired by their morale and group discipline.

After every show in Auckland, I run off and rehearse Dvořák's magnificent Cello Concerto with the St.Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra for a performance on June 21 with Donald Maurice conducting. This may be the finest amateur orchestra in the country. It is such a delight to be around all these players who are sharing with each other their great love of music - and how fortunate I am to be playing my favourite concerto as well!

I do look forward to pouring myself back into string quartets, but for the moment, I'm enjoying these 'playdates' with other friends.

More about the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute tour. 

 

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