Music festival set to bring classical feast

23:56, Jan 29 2013
pendrecki orchestra
PERFORMANCE: Jerzy Katanek, left, Katie Schlaikjer, Christine Vlajk and Jeremy Bell of The Penderecki String Orchestra.

Bob Bickerton has described Nelson as the "Salzburg of the South", and the Adam Chamber Music Festival manager's enthusiasm is even more evident ahead of its grand opening.

Two years' planning is coming to fruition, with Bickerton doing shuttle runs to the airport and offering to buy jet-lagged performers emergency coffees.

The festival is named after Wellington music lovers Denis and Verna Adam and kicks off with a sold-out gala dinner at Woollaston Estates tomorrow night.

"It's just wonderful," says Bickerton, who will be "unrecognisably" dressed up at the event. "It will be a case of, Daniel Craig eat your heart out."

The Adam Chamber Music Festival has grown from a series of concerts performed by five chamber music enthusiasts in 1992, to one that attracts audience members from as far away as Europe.

Sixty per cent of the festival's roughly 3000 audience members come from outside the region, many from Wellington.


Bickerton says it's an event where creativity thrives and unusual combinations of instruments are thrown together.

The economic impact of the Adam Chamber Music Festival is substantial, generating an estimated $2.3 million in spending in the Nelson economy.

It is also supported through funding from the Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency.

This year's programme was put together by two members of the New Zealand String Quartet and features collaborations such as a performance of a Schumann arrangement for two pianos, a French horn and two cellos.

Highlights include up-and-coming German performers the Minguet Quartet, the Penderecki String Quartet, from Canada, and English cellist Colin Carr, who will play all six of Bach's cello suites in an afternoon.

Up Close with the Penderecki, an intimate concert in the Chapel of Christ in St Arnaud, is already sold out, as is tomorrow's gala dinner and the opening concert on Friday night.

There are only a handful of tickets left to a performance of Mahler's 4th Symphony and the grand finale is also close to selling out.

"Ticket sales are going really well. We're expecting 3000 people during the festival and I think we have already gone past that. It looks like we will be cruising to break even," says Bickerton.

The Penderecki String Quartet arrived from Canada on Monday, with four hours' worth of rehearsals at the Nelson School of Music ahead of them.

The quartet was founded in Poland in 1987 and features four musicians from Poland, Canada, and the United States.

Viola player Christine Vlajk, of the US, says Up Close with the Penderecki in St Arnaud will be an intimate concert with a relaxed atmosphere.

"We've never been there before, but it sounds very beautiful."