17 May 2019

Emotional return to Town Hall for violinist

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 17 May 2019

Benjamin Morrison is the first and only New Zealander to play in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in its 177-year history. He joined in 2015 and is currently holds the prestigious role of first violinist.

Violinist Benjamin Morrison

Violinist Benjamin Morrison Photo: Supplied

When Benjamin Morrison was just five years old he stepped onto the stage of the Christchurch Town Hall for the first time. This weekend is his homecoming with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, to perform Erich Korngold’s lushly romantic Violin Concerto.

Returning to the Town Hall is something special for him. “It’s quite emotional,” he says. “I’m getting very nostalgic. I have very fond memories from there.

“I know the [CSO] people personally and I know what they must have gone through during the earthquakes. It can’t be easy.”

But out of struggles comes something beautiful he says. “I think [the earthquakes] would have made the community and orchestra strong. I’m proud and honoured to be part of it.”

Violinist Benjamin Morrison

Violinist Benjamin Morrison Photo: Supplied

It’s the first time in three years he’s returned home. It’s been seven years since he’s performed with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. He’s looking forward to performing something that is cinematic but challenging.

“It’s a lovely concerto,” he says. “[But] it is quite a challenge! It’s been quite a challenge to memorize it as well. He repeats things a bit, but not quite the same, so it can be confusing!”

Korngold, according to Benjamin is the “grandfather of film music”. The film score elements appear in the concerto. “The people that came after him: Shore, Williams… have drawn on elements of his music,” he says. “Film music has its place and is important. The type of music that touches people’s hearts.

“Aside from his brilliant composition techniques, which are quite complicated, you always have this feeling of romance”.

Christchurch Town Hall reopening concert

Christchurch Town Hall reopening concert Photo: Deborah Rowe

More than anything though, he’s looking forward to being back in his home town, with a hometown orchestra and a hometown audience. “I’m looking forward to it so much. The CSO has gone from strength to strength and it will be wonderful to be back in the Town Hall,” he says.

Benjamin Morrison performs with the CSO on Saturday May 18 at the Christchurch Town Hall. Also, on the programme is Mendelssohn and Beethoven.

  • Violins and Vienna