The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra next year will offer one of the most ambitious and diverse selection of concerts in its 70-year history.
The NZSO 2018 season unveiled in November includes six concerts in Hamilton on February 16, April 19, June 8, July 14, August 10 and September 12.
The season features a collaboration with acclaimed New Zealand band The Phoenix Foundation, concerts celebrating music in film, television and video games, Grammy Award-winning soloists and performances of some of the most popular and significant works in classical music, including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
The national orchestra, performing in 15 centres in 2018, will also stage more family concerts and an innovative series on Wellington's waterfront, which will appeal to new audiences.
NZSO chief executive Christopher Blake says the Orchestra's chief goal is always to perform great music at the highest standard to all New Zealanders.
"As a world-class orchestra, every year we join with exceptional soloists and conductors from around the globe to perform some of the best works by the greatest composers. We also premiere new works, including several by New Zealand composers.
"Our 2018 season is one of our best and one that will excite all New Zealanders. It's the most diverse selection of concerts we have ever presented since the orchestra was established 70 years ago. There is something for everyone and every age and it will bring many people to the orchestra for the first time."
In 2018 the NZSO will perform several concerts featuring music from film, television and video games. The Summer Pops - Music from the Movies tour has themes from hit films including Jurassic Park and Star Wars. A Comic Con-themed concert in Auckland will include music from Game of Thrones and Star Trek, along with hit video games. The Music of Harry Potter in Wellington will salute the popular film franchise.
The NZSO and The Phoenix Foundation will tour Celebrate!, marking the 20th anniversary of the band, which has been feted by rock royalty, including Neil Finn and Iggy Pop. The concerts will draw on The Phoenix Foundation's albums and soundtrack work, including music from Taika Waititi's box office smash Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
The new concert series beginning at Shed 6 on Wellington's waterfront will present works by Mozart and Haydn, Frank Zappa, Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood and others.
Classical Hits, with favourites from Schubert, Debussy and Tchaikovsky, comes to 11 centres from Kerikeri to Invercargill, including Hamilton.
NZSO music director Edo de Waart will open his third NZSO season with acclaimed young pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton, who will perform Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos.
De Waart's Masterworks series will also feature mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Augustin Hadelich, both Grammy Award winners, as well as NZSO Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen. Performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony will include New Zealand's own Simon O'Neill, Madeleine Pierard, Anthony Robin Schneider and Kristin Darragh with Voices New Zealand.
Simon O'Neill, hailed as "the Wagnerian tenor of his generation", will also headline a separate NZSO concert where he will perform Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder.
Other guest soloists in 2018 are cellist Johannes Moser, violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianists Simon Trpceski and Lars Vogt. NZSO Section Principal Bassoon Robert Weeks and Section Principal Cello Andrew Joyce will feature as soloists. Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu will perform Vivaldi's popular concerti The Four Seasons. Young New Zealanders Todd Gibson Cornish (bassoon) and Matthias Balzat (cello) will be soloists with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra. Internationally renowned conductors Jaime Martín, Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Lawrence Renes all return to the NZSO this season and newcomers will include Peter Oundjian and Brett Mitchell.
Johann Sebastian Bach and other baroque composers feature in Back to Bach and the NZSO will perform world premieres of new works by New Zealand composers Salina Fisher, Gareth Farr and Gillian Whitehead.
To mark the centenary of music legend Leonard Bernstein, Brett Mitchell will present a concert with Broadway star Morgan James. Bernstein at 100 will span genres and include the composer's Symphonic Suite from Hollywood classic On the Waterfront and dances from the musicals West Side Story and and On the Town.