Heartland Classics Revisited

09 September 2016 / News

We’ve recently returned from our 11-centre tour around ‘heartland’ New Zealand and thoroughly enjoyed seeing old friends, meeting new ones and sharing some of our favourite music in some stunning locations.

We loved reading the feedback you gave us after the concerts, and have picked out a few of our favourite comments:

A life-and-hope-affirming afternoon of glorious music played superbly – Thank you! (Martinborough)

My 7 yr old Milla liked hearing some of the context very much. Milla definitely wants to come to more! You have a very big fan! (Palmerston North)

Loved the piece by Gillian Whitehead… Wonderful work & loved the creativity in it & interactive way it was performed. Mahana te ngakau o te rongo! Kia ora ra. (Porirua)

The two New Zealand works on our programmes were enthusiastically received by audience and reviewers alike. Rosemary Collier, writing for Middle C, had this to say about Pororporoaki: “The musicians demonstrated Gillian Whitehead’s skilful incorporation of the sounds of a number of taonga puoro, played on their stringed instruments. It was amazing how much like the originals, made variously of wood, gourd, stone and shell, the sounds could be, using a variety of techniques. It was a brilliant piece of work, superbly rendered.” 

Peter Mechen, also writing for Middle C, said of Gareth Farr’s Te Tai-o-Rehua: “I was struck by the music’s balance between rhythm and colour, and for the composer’s inventive, unpredictable deployment of those sounds, making for whole sequences of incident that lost no time in moving between the pictorial and the emotional.” 

A highlight of the tour for us was the choice of venues, including some beautiful historic places such as The Tearoom upstairs in Rotorua’s Blue Baths, Caccia Birch House in Palmerston North, and the Victoria Room in Invercargill’s elegant Civic Theatre. We found ourselves in some rather quirky dressing rooms on tour, too, including the former Men’s Changing Rooms at the Blue Baths (now a museum, but largely unchanged from its original design) and the dressing room at the Lodge Theatre in Geraldine. Gillian writes: “Our concert was in the dear little recently-restored Lodge Theatre, a former Masonic lodge and now home to the Geraldine Players. The dressing room there is filled with props, racks of old fur coats, top hats and sequined dresses — we were so tempted to go out on stage with a fun accessory!” 

For Monique, it was her first time visiting most of the places we travelled to, and she had this to say of the experience:

"As a newcomer to this beautiful country, the Heartland Classics tour represented the perfect marriage of transcendental music with New Zealand's gorgeous landscapes. The weather was stunning on the day we flew from Wellington to Rotorua, with breath-taking views immediately below us of the snow-clad mountains of the central plateau. Equally spectacular was our flight from Christchurch to Invercargill, with views of the Southern Alps seeming to extend forever.  A highlight for me was our performance at Cloudy Bay Vineyard in the Marlborough region. Our flight to Blenheim was brief but rich in beauty. As we glided through the clear sky, my gaze wandered over the sparkling waters below which connect the North and South Islands, and to the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps in the distance. As if this trip alone wasn't enough, we arrived at Cloudy Bay and were met with a view of endless vineyards with luscious mountains and hills as the backdrop. To perform here was the perfect setting for chamber music - we were featured in the centre of the elegant Treehouse room and the audience was able to watch and listen to us from all angles. I loved that we had a close connection to our listeners and also the chance to perform both our Heartland Classics programmes in one day! The whole experience was rounded off by our Cloudy Bay sponsors’ generous offer of accommodation in The Shack - a beautifully designed lodge that looks out on the beautiful vineyards from every window. It was the perfect setting to celebrate the end of our Heartland Classics tour with a drop of their exquisite wine."

Our tour simply couldn’t have gone ahead without the amazing support of The Turnovsky Endowment Trust, Creative New Zealand, Foundation North, The Lion Foundation, Nelson Pine, Cloudy Bay and Meadow Mushrooms. Bravo to you all! 

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