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Phoenix Foundation with NZSO

Press Release – NZSO


The Phoenix Foundation’s Chris O’Connor, NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, Lukasz Buda, Will Ricketts, Tom Callwood, Samuel Scott and Conrad Wedde. Photo: Stephen A´Court

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra joins forces with The Phoenix Foundation, one of the country’s most lauded bands, for a remarkable concert experience in Wellington on Thursday.

The NZSO and The Phoenix Foundation – Celebrate! marks 20 years since the popular band was founded in Wellington. Praised by music heavyweights, including Neil Finn, Iggy Pop and Jarvis Cocker, this will be the first time The Phoenix Foundation has performed with a world-class symphony orchestra.

The concert features a wide selection of The Phoenix Foundation’s songs and instrumentals from the past two decades, including Buffalo, Bright Grey and Give Up Your Dreams.

Top New Zealand composers and arrangers Gareth Farr, Claire Cowan, Chris Gendall and Hamish Oliver have been working with The Phoenix Foundation and NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich to create orchestral versions of the band’s much-loved works.

“There is no sound on earth quite like a real symphony orchestra,” says The Phoenix Foundation’s Samuel Scott.

“We’ve had 20 years of driving each other crazy trying to make a six-piece band be as expansive and cinematic as an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. The arrangers we have had the privilege of working with on this concert have brought all those years of searching to another plain of existence. It’s going to be a cosmic, unrepeatable experience.”

Scott says the concert will appeal to fans of The Phoenix Foundation and the NZSO alike.

“This is still 100 per cent The Phoenix Foundation – just with over 60 musicians and the skills of the conductor and arranger turning it up to 11.”

McKeich says the idea of combining an orchestra and band is always a potentially exiting concept, “especially if the group has wonderful quirky and challenging music, like The Phoenix Foundation”.

“They are a seminal New Zealand band and together with the NZSO, should make the concerts a rare and unique event. We’ll be performing their top songs from their history, plus two new songs that have never been heard before. The four brilliant composers and arrangers will incorporate their own flavour to the proceedings, making it a truly collaborative event.”

The Phoenix Foundation’s Lukasz Buda says the NZSO will be more than a big backing band. “We have been acutely aware that we do not want to play our songs the way we would usually play them and just have the NZSO in the background, so we’re really trying to minimise what the band does so that it really is a collaboration.

“We are so excited about these shows, we’re fully aware it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to play with a full orchestra. Some of the arrangements are quite true to the original album versions and others will be very different.”

The Phoenix Foundation – Samuel Scott, Lukasz Buda, Conrad Wedde, Will Ricketts, Tom Callwood and Chris O’Connor – won the New Zealand Music Award for best group in 2010 for the album Buffalo. The band also contributed to several movie soundtracks, including film-maker Taika Waititi’s box office hits Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

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