13 Aug 2021

From North America to the South Pacific

From Upbeat, 12:30 pm on 13 August 2021

The edges of the Mississippi River and the endless Saskatchewan prairies have delivered two principal musicians to Auckland's Philharmonia Orchestra. 

Melanie Lançon, flutist, and Bede Hanley, oboist, talk to Upbeat about their Fantasy and Romance tour with pianist Stephen De Pledge, and their winding journeys to making Aotearoa their home.

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Photo: Supplied

Joining host David Morriss from the Auckland studio, the pair are still energised by last night's APO performance of Má Vlast, conducted by the inimitable James Judd.

Bede first met the conductor in Spain as a 21-year-old, "still wet behind the ears." He was especially thrilled to see him again and have the opportunity to play all seven of Smetana's symphonic poems.

It was an unforgettable evening, Melanie agrees, and particularly special under James Judd's stewardship.

Melanie first came to the APO on a seven week contract. She was living in Los Angeles at the time, "doing the Hollywood scene. Playing a few movie scores here and there."

She saw the opportunity as a free trip to New Zealand and a chance to make music and friends. She loved what she found so much she decided to stay.

"I never knew it would be such a life changing moment," she says. "It immediately felt 100 per cent comfortable. I'll never forget it."

Part of that feeling came from playing alongside the oboist. They noticed their styles fitted together seamlessly. "It was a match made in heaven," Melanie says.

Bede first came to The Land of the Long White Cloud a dozen or so years ago.

He fell in love with the acoustics of the Auckland Town Hall, but took a small four-year detour to Winnipeg, before settling here with wife Rachel Moody, who plays first violin with the APO.

"It took a little while, but this is now home," he says with a chuckle.

Oboist and flutist are currently three concerts down in their 10 centre Fantasy and Romance tour. Stephen De Pledge was the obvious choice to fill out the trio.

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The trio stop in Taupo on the Fantasy and Romance tour. Photo: Supplied

Playing with friends is not always a prerequisite, but for a tour this long, it is a must.

And so far it has been action-packed.

In the first few cities they have had 30 minutes from plane to stage. A stark contrast to the APO where every minute is precisely planned.

Bede and Melanie lament the lack of compositions for oboe, flute and piano. According to both, there aren't nearly enough. Listen as they give David Morriss insight into constructing the tour's programme and the particular genius of Stephen De Pledge.

Music details:

Madeleine DRING: Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano. Melanie Lançon (flute), Bede Hanley (oboe), Stephen De Pledge (piano)