Young sax talent plays big gig
Rising jazz player Ben Lerner is set to play his biggest concert yet.
The young saxophone player, 12, will be the featured soloist at this year's New Zealand Pops spring concert next weekend where he will perform with the backing of a professional orchestra.
Held at the Auckland Town Hall it will be a big gig for a young lad.
But while the young player says he will no doubt be nervous come the big day, he is also determined to make the most of the opportunity.
"Last year I was invited to play with the North Harbour swing band and I play with a lot of bands and the orchestra at school.
"So I have some experience but not in a proper professional environment.
"I'm a bit nervous. I'm not sure how well I'm going to play.
"Hopefully I play well. There will be so many people in the audience."
Ben will perform two numbers on the night - The Eagles classic Desperado and the Thelonious Monk tune Well You Needn't.
While he has only played the sax for four years Ben says the instrument has become a part of his life.
"I started at the end of year three and I was so small no-one wanted to teach me. People thought I was too young."
Determined to start learning he persevered until Edwin Randall, a music teacher at Saint Kentigern School where Ben is a student, agreed to take him on.
"I just really like the instrument, ever since I was little I have really liked the sax.
"It's part of my life definitely. You can be so free on it, you can do whatever you want - there are no boundaries."
The New Zealand Pops orchestra was founded last year with the aim of giving young musicians the chance to experience working with a professional outfit and to attract a wider audience to orchestral music. It plays a fusion of light classical and popular music and puts the spotlight on an up and coming star.
Founder and conductor Rita Paczian says for anyone who dreams of a career in the music industry actually getting close to an orchestra can seem unattainable.
"But New Zealand Pops was established in April 2012 to not only make experiencing the orchestral treatment of a variety of music more accessible to a wider audience, but to also enable younger performers to work with seasoned musicians and singers and learn from them."
Other performers for the concert include musical group VOXPOP and the New Zealand Pops Youth Choir.
"For Ben Lerner and all the young singers who take the stage in front of hundreds of people the exposure to the real world of music will give them a taste of what a professional performance is like," Ms Paczian says.
"It is really thrilling. It is what motivates all those involved in the New Zealand Pops Orchestra."
The NZ Pops concert Spring Pops will be at the Auckland Town Hall, 5pm on September 15.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Are you heading out of Auckland on the Christmas, New Year break?