2 Apr 2024

Island life with a classical twist

From Three to Seven, 4:05 pm on 2 April 2024
Gabriella Lewenz Gallery, Waiheke Island

Waiheke's Gabriella Lewenz Gallery is hosting the Waiheke Chamber Music Festival. Photo: TRILBY & LACE

Waiheke Island has been hosting a jazz festival for many years, and now Australian oboist Tania Frazer is hoping to establish a chamber music festival.

Oboist Tania Frazer

Oboist Tania Frazer Photo: Waiheke Chamber Music Festival

Frazer, who has New Zealand relations, was so blown over by the Island's beauty and some of the potential venues, she rang fellow musician, the Auckland-raised violinist Amalia Hall on the spot.

Hall liked the idea, and the Waiheke Chamber Music Festival was born, with the pair taking on the roles of artistic co-directors. 

Violinist Amalia Hall

Violinist Amalia Hall Photo: Supplied / Waiheke Chamber Music Festival

While the project might be new, Frazer and Hall will bring plenty of experience.

Frazer is former principal oboe with the Israel Philharmonic and is currently the Creative Director of the Australian chamber group the Southern Cross Soloists, as well as running the annual Bangalow Music Festival which takes place in northern New South Wales every August.

The Bangalow festival was where the two met. Frazer likes to spot talented musicians before they get too famous, and she can't afford them. Contacts in New Zealand suggested Hall, and Frazer wasn't disappointed.

Hall is simply a New Zealand musical phenomenon: a member of NZTrio, leader of Orchestra Wellington and international violin soloist.

When I caught up with the pair, Hall was in Acapulco Mexico on a central American tour, Frazer was in Queensland.

Both will soon be heading for Waiheke to set up the festival which runs over the weekend of 20-21 April. 

Waiheke Chamber Music Festival 2024 - artists

Don't forget the bottom row: from left to right, Callum and Lara Hall, and Robert Ashworth. Photo: Waiheke Chamber Music Festival

Joining them will be the accordion player Grayson Masefield, viola player Robert Ashworth, and two of Hall's siblings: violinist Lara, and cellist Callum.

Which moves me to suggest the Halls are New Zealand's answer to England's Kanneh-Masons.

Together, the Halls, Frazer, Ashworth and Masefield will play music by Schubert, Pachelbel, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, J S Bach, Handel and Piazzolla, to name a few, over two concerts.

If it all goes to plan, Frazer believes the quality of the music and the magic of the venue will turn the little festival into a keeper.

She's hoping for an Australian equivalent of her festival in Bangalow, near Byron Bay, where punters fly in every year from around the country, coming back year after year

"My aim long term would be to have it become... something that people book in every year as their holiday, because it would be the perfect lifestyle weekend. You can just have everything, some beautiful music, incredible food, and of course wineries, but [also] for nature lovers and art lovers. I think the concept of the festival has something for everyone."

Little Palm Beach

Looking out into the Hauraki Gulf from Waiheke Island. Photo: Creative Media Productions NZ