A rich collection of songs from around the world will air in Wellington this August, curated and performed by Stroma, New Zealand’s leading new music ensemble. Stroma’s Voices of the World – Thursday 1 August, Hannah Playhouse – celebrates musical traditions from Armenia, Italy, China, America and, closer to home, Aotearoa.
Outstanding New Zealand soprano Bianca Andrew will steal the night with an unforgettable song cycle by 20th-century Italian composer Luciano Berio. The rich voices of the taonga puoro – Rob Thorne and Alistair Fraser will soar and we are proud to present a world premiere by New Zealand composer John Psathas as well as a NZ premiere of a collaboration between Celeste Oram, Rob Thorne, Keir GoGwilt and members of Stroma.
New Zealand composer Jack Body is celebrated in Bouyi, an atmospheric piece for recorded voice and strings inspired by his exploration of the singing styles of southwestern China.
“Many of the works in this concert are either based on folk songs, or feature recordings of non-classical singers alongside which the musicians of Stroma perform', says Stroma Co-Director Michael Norris. ‘The result is an intoxicating blend of cultures and traditions that celebrates the vibrancy of humanity.’
Audiences will also be treated to two international New Zealand premieres that bring to life Chicago and French Canadian street singing – A Wonderful Day by Anna Clyne (UK) and Reeling by Julia Wolfe (USA).
Sit back and travel the world in an evening of folk music for the next generation.
Luciano Berio (Italy) • Folk songs
Bianca Andrew sings this intoxicating set of arrangements of folk music from various countries including Armenia, Sardinia, Azerbaijan and Sicily. Berio’s gorgeous orchestrations for an ensemble that includes harp and percussion brings sumptuous life to these songs of the world.
Julia Wolfe (USA) • Reeling (New Zealand Premiere)
In this work, Wolfe uses a recording of a French Canadian man singing “in a sing-song twirly way”. The musicians in the ensemble gradually build up musical layers – as Wolfe says, “to go from his world to my world, which is much more cacophonous and has a more urban sensibility”.
John Psathas (NZ) • Irirangi (Meditation) (World Premiere)
We are honoured to present this world premiere of a new work for taonga puoro and flute by New Zealand’s most prominent composer, John Psathas.
Jack Body (NZ) • Bouyi
New Zealand composer Jack Body spent a number of years in the 1980s undertaking fieldwork among the minorities of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in southwestern China. He was particularly fascinated by odd coincidences in musical styles; for instance, he noticed that in the Bouyi minority, two singers would often end their phrases on a dissonant major second, rather than a consonance, a characteristic Jack recognised was shared with the vocal traditions of Bulgaria, half a world away. In this piece, Jack takes one of the recordings of these women and adds some beautiful, wistful string writing on top.
Anna Clyne (UK) • A Wonderful Day (New Zealand Premiere)
This work started life while the composer was walking down Chicago's Magnificent Mile. In front of her, an elderly man was slowly strolling, singing with a raw, slow voice. Clyne approached him and asked if he'd mind her recording him, which he was happy to do. Clyne takes the recording and adds gentle instrumental layers to enhance and amplify the rawness of the man’s voice. A Wonderful Day is the first in a collection of short electro-acoustic works titled Chicago Street Portraits, in which Clyne combines recordings of local street musicians with live instrumental ensembles.
Celeste Oram / Rob Thorne / Keir GoGwilt / Stroma • An Overture (NZ premiere)
This reworking of Celeste Oram’s collaborative work He Pūtōrino Mākutu (Eine Zauberflöte / A Magic Flute) combines two musical traditions from antipodes of the globe: Viennese classicism and taonga pūoro – the instrumental musical heritage of the Māori people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Musical borrowings from Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven are reimagined and responded to with original music.
Bianca Andrew (mezzo-soprano); Keir GoGwilt (violin); Alistair Fraser (taonga puoro); Rob Thorne (taonga puoro); and Hamish McKeich (conductor)
VOICES OF THE WORLD
7.30pm, Thursday 1 August
Hannah Playhouse, 12 Cambridge Tce, Wellington
RUN TIME: 90 min
Stroma is an artistic team combining musicians at the highest standards of excellence in New Zealand. In 2020, Stroma will celebrate 20 years of engaging audiences with the music of living composers. At the core of this team lies the creative brilliance of composer Michael Norris (recent winner of the 2018 SOUNZ Contemporary Award) and acclaimed New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) conductor Hamish McKeich, whose leadership during the past 15 years has produced innovative programmes unique to New Zealand and introduced audiences to new ideas from the global musical community. Since its inception in 2000, Stroma has not only commissioned and premiered more than 50 new works but has also given repeat performances of more than 40 existing New Zealand works.