15 Oct 2018

Chamber Music NZ’s “wild” 2019

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 15 October 2018

Chamber Music New Zealand is going a little “wild” for 2019, according to outgoing CEO Peter Walls.

Peter Walls conductor of Nota Bene

Peter Walls conductor of Nota Bene Photo: MASSEY UNIVERSITY

The 2019 season is full of “superstars”, “wild” performers and the unexpected with the goal of expanding the definition of chamber music.

A standout performer for Walls is Red Priest, who will be touring to 10 centres in March. Walls describes them as a “wild group”. “They are about living on the wild side of music,” he says. “It’s very theatrical.”

A number of “superstars” will also be performing around the country. Quatuor Ébène are the “young superstars of the quartet world”. They will be coming to Wellington and Auckland in October to perform Beethoven.

The group was approached by Carnegie Hall to do a complete Beethoven cycle for 2020 and have been doing some filming along the way. Peter Walls says their tour of NZ is part of that.

Another “superstar” in CMNZ’s lineup is violinist Viktoria Mullova, performing with cellist Matthew Barley and NZ pianist Stephen De Pledge. In September the group will perform some true cornerstones of the repertoire including Schubert’s Trio in E flat. “It’s a total thrill,” Walls says of having Viktoria Mullova perform in this country.

The Brodsky Quartet returns for a seven-date tour in May with two different programmes. One features works from composers who ignored musical barriers in favour of freedom of expression, and the other is a programme of Bach, Beethoven and Bartók fugues. “They feel like old friends of Chamber Music New Zealand,” Walls says.

Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova

Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova Photo: Viktoria Mullova

It’s not often audiences get to hear brass chamber groups perform, but Septura, one of the world’s leading ensembles, will bring brass alive in April. It was a deliberate decision by CMNZ to offer something completely different. “What food groups haven’t we covered?” Walls laughs.

The diversity of performances is important to Walls. “It’s such an important thing… not to let chamber music calcify into string quartets and piano trios – although there is nothing wrong with that,” he says. “We’ve tried to emphasis the music up close… through the intimacy… and avoiding that word ‘classical’. That has too many boundaries.”

Although this is the last season for Walls, he’s already planning a few seasons ahead. “It’s been fun to be part of that discussion of where we might head,” he says. “There’s some exciting things out there in the future.”