22 Oct 2019

Compassion at the heart of CSO 2020 season

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 22 October 2019

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra will mark the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings with Compassion, a concert drawing on the rich worlds of Islam and Judaism.

A mosque in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton.

Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra CEO Gretchen La Roche says it is important to mark the 15 March anniversary.

“I think it’s still something that… is deeply shocking and that everyone [is] still really coming to terms with in their own ways,” she says.

“It meant that there are a number… of things about our community that we really had to think about and confront… some of those things weren’t very nice.

“They weren’t very beautiful.”

The orchestra’s goal is to present a collection of profound and poetic messages surrounding the idea of compassion between human beings.

Nigel Westlake’s collaboration with tenor Lior Attar Compassion will have its New Zealand debut.

The piece, an orchestral song cycle in Hebrew and Arabic, “offers listeners space and opportunity to reflect on the qualities of mercy and love, and how they can to enrich our lives with meaning, insight, depth and worth”.

La Roche describes Compassion as “incredibly powerful” and “very moving”.

“We felt that this piece perhaps might just encourage us to invite reflection on those circumstances… [and] the world we want to build as we continue on,” she says.

She hopes the concert helps contribute to the ongoing discussions about Christchurch.

“This concert is just one thing that contributes towards that, as we start to take on what it means to be an increasingly diverse city.”

RNZ Concert is recording the performance for later broadcast.