Turning Points - Chronological Connections

29 June 2018 / News

Tickets went on sale last month for our Turning Points tour and it’s exciting to see a high level of early interest in our national tour. There’s nothing quite like playing to a full hall, especially when the hall itself – or homestead/church/vineyard – feels like the perfect setting for a chamber music concert!

Many of the venues on our tour have special historical significance, harking back to an earlier era in New Zealand, and as we’ve delved into the history of those buildings, we’ve discovered some chronological connections with some of the works we’re playing.

The oldest venue on our tour is the gracious Caccia Birch House in Palmerston North, built by a Norwegian sawmiller in 1895, just two years after Debussy wrote his String Quartet in G minor. The property once stood on over 20 acres and incorporated a lagoon, stables and polo grounds. It gradually fell into disrepair in the 1970s but was rescued and restored in the early 1990s and now hosts weddings, concerts, garden parties and other special events.

We’ll be playing Debussy’s String Quartet in our concerts in Featherston, Blenheim, Howick and Waiheke Island, but if you can't get to any of those, here’s a video us playing the work earlier this year – just recently uploaded to our brand new Vimeo channel.

Debussy - Quartet in G Minor (complete live performance) from nzstringquartet on Vimeo.

Another of the works on our Turning Points programme, Webern’s achingly romantic Langsamer Satz, was written in 1905, coinciding almost exactly with the construction of three of the venues on our tour: the Hunter Council Chamber at Victoria University of Wellington (built in 1904 and one of the most significant Edwardian buildings in New Zealand), Auckland’s neo-Gothic St Matthew-in-the-City (1905) and the beautiful Civic Theatre in Invercargill (1906).

Webern’s playful Six Bagatelles, which also feature on our tour programme, were completed in 1913 – just three years before Anzac Hall in Featherston was built – and were published in 1924, a year after the completion of the neo-Baroque St Andrews on The Terrace in Wellington.

Other buildings of historical significance on our tour are the Blue Baths in Rotorua, built during the Great Depression and boasting “movie-style glamour”, and All Saints Church in Howick.  Although our concert at All Saints will be in the newer (and warmer!) church, the original parish church (dating from 1847) still stands alongside it and is the oldest building in Manukau.

If food and wine hold more appeal than historic venues, then you’re in luck with our concerts in Blenheim, Queenstown and Waiheke Island. We’re looking forward to two concerts in The Treehouse at Cloudy Bay Vineyards, home of our generous wine sponsors. Be warned that seating there is limited and tends to sell quickly, so be sure to book in advance! Mid-tour, we return to the beautiful Lodge at The Hills, the private Queenstown home of Sir Michael and Lady Christine Hill, for an elegant evening of music, wine and canapés. And our tour ends at Cable Bay Vineyards on Waiheke Island for a special ‘dinner plus concert’ package, pairing the music of three great composers with a three-course dinner and complimentary glass of bubbles.

We’re enormously grateful to The Lion Foundation for their generous grant towards the hire of venues – their support enables us to share our music with you in these memorable settings.

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