Waikato conservatorium comes of age with a veritable feast
Who: 25th Anniversary Gala Celebrations of Music at Waikato University
When: Weekend 13-14 October
Where: Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts
Reviewed by Andrew Buchanan-Smart
Congratulations to the University of Waikato music programme, because it has grown into a full conservatorium of music. This milestone should enable it to become a primary focus for music performance and research within and beyond New Zealand.
This marvellous achievement and the excellence it represents were celebrated in two concerts at the weekend, celebrating the programme's 25th anniversary.
The first, on Saturday, by students and alumni, demonstrated both the diversity, talent and the quality of music making produced at the conservatorium. Dr Greg Neil accompanied the singers and Katherine Austin the instrumentalists. The works included Beethoven's piano trio Op 70 No 1, Janacek's string quartet No 1, Kreutzer sonata, and Cellophonics performed Hoy Mondango. The operatic repertoire was well represented with arias by Adam (Beverley Pullon), Puccini (Alice Gower), and Massenet (June Dams). Julia Booth brought comic elements in A Word on My Ear and with Elaine Wogan in Rossini's The Cat's Duet. Santiago Valencia presented two virtuoso cello pieces. Lauren Grout was soloist in Fukushima's Mei for flute, while Adam Maha, on viola, soloed in Jeremy Mayall's Tracking Forward.
The Sunday concert was given by the music staff. Martin Lodge's Summer Music and Michael Williams' Behind the Parapet trios were performed by the New Zealand Chamber Soloists: Katherine Austin (piano), Lara Hall (violin) and James Tennant (cello). Also performed was Ian Whalley's Kasumi, an electroacoustic Maori instrument work. Telemann represented the baroque with Rachael Griffiths-Hughes on harpsichord and Jessica Shaw on recorder performing a sonata, and Lara Hall giving a virtuoso performance of a fantasia. Dame Malvina Major, Glenese Blake and David Griffiths sang arias from Catalani's La Wally, and Lehar's Paganini, with duets from Mozart's Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro. Griffiths also presented songs from Lilburn's Sings Harry. All round, it was a veritable feast, a real celebration where excellence was the hallmark.
Concerts like these demonstrate the impact and value of the music programme. What it gives to the Waikato and wider community on behalf of the university is of inestimable value.