Learn classical guitar from the best

01:49, Nov 29 2011

Many local groups have chalked up firsts for our region and the latest is the Classical Guitar Society of New Plymouth. They are busy organising a Classical Guitar Summer School for January 16 to 21 at Highlands Intermediate School, the first of its kind in New Zealand for more than 20 years.

It features lectures, workshops, ensembles, masterclasses and concerts with some of New Zealand's finest guitarists, including John Couch, Matthew Marshall, Miles Jackson, Ross Townsend, Timothy Watanabe, Cheryl Grice-Watterson, Owen Moriarty, Jane Curry and Christopher Hill, as well as young local players Nick Price and Jake Church.

More than 40 educators, students, professionals, amateurs, composers and luthiers from around the country will converge for an intense six days and nights of fun and rewarding learning. Matthew Marshall is sponsoring a classical guitar composition competition for New Zealand composers, and will perform the winning pieces as part of the summer school, with the composers invited to be part of the school.

Local guitar aficionados who enjoyed the recent concert by Cheryl Grice-Watterson will be eager for more, and for those who missed it, here's your chance to catch up.

What says summer more than listening to mellow guitars on the lawn of an evening? Lunchtime concerts will be held at Highlands Intermediate and members of the public are encouraged to bring their lunch along for an informal "eat and meet" with the entire campus between noon and 1pm, followed by the concert from 1pm till 2pm.

Evening public concerts will be held at St Andrew's, Liardet St at 8pm, Monday to Friday.

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The finale will be a free All Stars Gala Night on Saturday, 21, with performances by the ensemble groups, an orchestra of more than 40 guitars, and a selection of solos and collaboration by the tutors, to be held at the Hatchery Lawn, Festival of Lights, with St Andrew's as a wet venue alternative.

Dominique Blatti is co-ordinating all of this, and you can get more information about registrations and the concerts at taranakisummerschool.weebly.com or phone 7527400 or email: billyatthebeach@xtra.co.nz.

City Sounds will be joined by the Opunake Coastal Singers for their Christmas concert titled Reflections, at St Andrew's Church, Liardet St on December 4 at 3pm.

The programme includes something for everyone from popular ballads to Christmas anthems guaranteed to stir the soul. Tickets are $10, available from Pianoworks, choir members and at the door.

The final Taranaki Jazz Club event for the year is on December 11 and features Taupo-based Jazz Renaissance. This group was originally formed in Auckland in the early 1980s by Dr Peter Foreman and his wife, Sarah, and varies from a duo to a big band plus singers.

While living and working in the United States, Peter and Sarah attended jazz improvisation classes and courses with greats such as the jazz legendary, Quincy Jones.

They recently played to enthusiastic crowds at the 2011 Noosa Jazz Festival. Here Peter on keyboards and Sarah on bass and keyboards will be joined by local musicians Ross Halliday on guitar, Robin Wells on saxophone and Jacob Randall on drums.

Their repertoire ranges from very cool laid back numbers through to bossa novas and swinging jazz standards such as those of Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson and Monty Alexander.

You can catch them at The New Plymouth Club, Gill St. Doors open at 3.30pm for the 4pm till 7pm performance. There are bar and meal facilities available and admission is adults $16, New Plymouth Club members $13, Jazz Club members $10 and students $4.

Operatunity is getting into the seasonal spirit with its final concert of the year An Olde Fashioned Christmas. Favourite guest artists Stuart Coats, Rachel Day and Cameron Barclay will join Operatunity partner Susan Boland, accompanied by pianist Alex Wiltshire, in a show including famous carols and songs to enjoy and sing along to, as well as some surprise numbers.

It's on Friday, December 16 at 11am at City West Church, Poplar Grove. Tickets cost $28 including lunch with the artists, with discounts available for group and concession bookings. To book call Operatunity on 0508266237, online at operatunity.co.nz, or bookings@operatunity.co.nz.

Christchurch-born baritone Chris Bruerton, a former member of New Zealand Youth Choir, has been appointed as the first ever non-British member of The King's Singers, one of the world's most celebrated ensembles.

His first tour with them will bring him back to New Zealand and Australia on the group's first tour here in 27 years. They will perform in Hamilton and Auckland in February 2012.

Much closer to home, our local star, NZSO principal trombone David Bremner, has just returned from a four-week stint with the Royal Philharmonic under Charles Dutoit.

They toured Europe, with concerts in Berlin, Munich, Vienna and Liechtenstein, and concluded with four days at the Royal Albert Hall. He had a wonderful time, and apparently made a great impression on the brass section of that famous London orchestra.

It's absolutely brilliant that the NZSO allows for and encourages exchanges of players. It gives them the chance to play with other top orchestras in the world, without leaving the security of their regular positions, and then bring home and share all the benefits of that experience.

My next column, appearing on December 14, will be the last for the year, so if you have any events in January, you need to send the information before December 8.

Taranaki