Novel approach to orchestral music will arouse your senses

By Peter Tiffany

When it comes to making music all are welcome and everyone has a part to play. Photo / Supplied
When it comes to making music all are welcome and everyone has a part to play. Photo / Supplied

A weekend of orchestral music may not be everyone's cup of tea.

But what if it could be your Sunday morning mug of coffee, your weekend chocolate treat, or even a piece of music that transforms into a painting?

These and much more are on the menu for Sensing Music, an innovative and ambitious event over three days in Hamilton that will challenge audiences to enjoy orchestral music in fresh and exciting ways.

Sensing Music includes conductor training and musician workshops.
Sensing Music includes conductor training and musician workshops.

In one performance - Sonoscopia - an artist will paint what the orchestra plays; in another, the Rusty Players will play what they smell, and in another the audience will eat chocolate while the musicians play the taste.

This feast of music is being presented over Friday to Sunday, August 25, 26, and 27 at the Meteor Theatre by Orchestras Central to truly immerse audiences in music using all their senses.

Never heard of Orchestras Central or the Rusty Payers? Don't worry, just keep in mind that the Rusty Players are people who don't have as much time as they used to for their love of music - and they are sponsored by CRC.

Yes, that CRC, the rust-busting spray that gives old stuff new life and is probably not too frequently mentioned in the same breath as wood wind or string section.

The Rusty Players are ready for a taste of success. Photo / Supplied
The Rusty Players are ready for a taste of success. Photo / Supplied

We are talking different here, very different - even ground breaking - at least for Waikato, if not New Zealand.

The Sunday afternoon concert The Pied Piper of Pirongia is described as a family concert and "orchestral petting zoo" which you can guess does not mean sitting up straight and telling the kids not to fidget.

It will introduce new listeners to the inner workings of an orchestra. Before the production, walk through the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra and have a look at the instruments. The bar will be open, so adults may have a drink - and buy an ice cream for the kids.

Oh, and the Pied Piper piece offers a thoroughly modern take on a classic - with a surprising twist in the tale.

Here's a tip: bring a cushion and sit right near the orchestra.

Orchestras Central's CEO Susan Trodden: "We're trying to think differently." Photos / Supplied
Orchestras Central's CEO Susan Trodden: "We're trying to think differently." Photos / Supplied

"We're trying to think differently, to challenge people to come and see if they still say 'orchestral music is not for me'," says Orchestras Central CEO Susan Trodden.

After pitching the concept to her funders and stakeholders, Susan says she was staggered by the avalanche of interest.

Sensing Music soon became three days of events and with the support of Creative New Zealand some are free and some are low cost.

"People are curious,"says Susan. "If we have something new and different, supporters will
come to us.

"When I talk about 'us' I am talking about the orchestral eco system of Hamilton," she says

Sensing Music celebrates the breadth of talent in our community, says Susan.

"The ultimate goal is to see more people than ever before come and enjoy playing with us and more put orchestra event attendance on their 'must-do' entertainment list.

It is a challenge Susan took up when Orchestras Central was established in 2015 to further the opportunities for musicians and audiences in the region.

While there were three active orchestras based in Hamilton - the long-standing Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, the Opus Orchestra (established 1991) and the United Youth Orchestra (formed in 2003), they were suffering from what Susan described as volunteer fatigue.

Having  some fun along the way is all part of the experience. Photo / Supplied
Having some fun along the way is all part of the experience. Photo / Supplied

"They were using the same venues and chasing the same funding," says Susan who has a background in business management.

Professional management was what was needed.

Trust Waikato put up the money and Orchestras Central came into being. Other major sponsors are Creative NZ, the WEL Energy Trust, and Hamilton City Council.

Early on it was clear there were many people around who loved orchestral music, could play an instrument but who had not played in a long time - up to 30 years. They were keen to be involved.

A year ago the Rusty Players first tuned up and today numbers more than 50.

Susan and a team of three permanent staff, plus contractors and seven or eight volunteers now take care of administration and operations for all four orchestras.

"To lead the change has been really exciting," says Susan who has seen the orchestras transitioned ito one group with crossover of musicians and repertoire.

She says she sees strong connections between business and the arts with the same or similar stakeholders in both fields of endeavour.

"Hamilton is coming of age. It is a grown up city that wants new experiences and we have the support of the decision makers," she says.

Now orchestral music just needs the support of new Hamilton audiences to continue to grow, flourish and be more widely heard and enjoyed.

SENSING MUSIC EVENTS

* Youth Orchestra Jam: Friday, August 25, 6.30pm-8pm, at The Meteor - upstairs rehearsal room. Join the Youth Orchestra for their Friday night rehearsal. Observe, take part, have fun. No cost, but please register. Suitable for 12 to 20-year-olds.

* Sonoscopia: Friday, August 25, 8.30am-10pm, at The Meteor. Cost: $23.50. Sonoscopia explores the relationship between what we see and what we hear. Through melodies and abstraction, Sonoscopia, composed by Dr Jeremy Mayall, is a creative journey of sight and sound.

* Musicians workshops and conductor training: Saturday, August 26, 1pm-6pm, at The Meteor. Cost: $20-$80. String, wind, percussion and brass classes available. $20 per person. Followed by a three-hour conductor workshop with TWSO music director Rupert D'Cruze. Registration is essential.

* Music in the Round - Palette: Saturday, August 26, 8pm-9.30pm, at The Meteor. Cost: $23.50. A unique concert featuring an octet of high quality local talent. Music from the 18th century to the present day; includes the New Zealand premiere of Goulet Symphonic Chocolates - a delicious treat not to be missed.

* Rusty Player Breakfast - Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Sunday, August 27, 10am-11.30 am, at The Meteor. Cost: $20. Includes music and brunch. An all-comers brunch as the Rusty Players gather for a chance to play as they enjoy the tastes and smells of the cafe.

* The Pied Piper of Pirongia - Family Concert and Orchestral Petting zoo: Sunday, August 27, 2.30pm-4pm, at The Meteor. Cost: $5 - $12.50. Door sales only. Beginning with an invitation to see the 'inner workings' of an orchestra, families will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the musicians and their instruments before enjoying a new production, written especially for the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra.


Tickets to win

Hamilton News has a double pass to Sonoscopia to be won. To enter, tell us the name of the composer of Sonoscopia. Entries by email with your answer in the subject line. Include your name and contact details, including a day-time phone number.

Send to: peter.tiffany@nzme.co.nz. Entries close at 5pm on Tuesday 22 August. One entry per person.

- Hamilton News

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