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NZSO to play Beethoven and Bach in two July concerts


Pastoral – Pianist Diedre Irons. Credit: Debbie Rawson

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The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is to stage two special Beethoven and Bach concerts in Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre in July, and livestream each performance.

Pastoral on 8 July will showcase two of Beethoven’s greatest works – the EmperorPiano Concerto featuring legendary pianist Diedre Irons – and the composer’s glorious celebration of nature, the Sixth Symphony Pastoral. The Orchestra will be led by NZSO Principal Conductor in Residence Hamish McKeich.


NZSO Section Principal Clarinet Patrick Barry performs during the NZSO’s Goldberg Variations tour in March 2020. Credit: Latitude Creative

On 22 July the NZSO will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s baroque masterpiece Goldberg Variations. The Orchestra toured Goldberg Variations to critical acclaim earlier this year. This will be its first performance in Wellington.

Manawatu Standard praised Goldberg Variations. “The orchestra provided a rare and immensely satisfying concert performance of this monumental opus from the height of the Baroque period.”

Tickets to Pastoral will be at a special price of $30 or $20, and for Goldberg Variations $20 or $15 from ticketmaster.co.nz

Both concerts will be livestreamed and free to view at live.nzso.co.nz

Long considered one of New Zealand’s most distinguished musicians, Canadian-born Diedre Irons has performed with the NZSO numerous times since 1976. In 2017 it included special concerts with three NZSO Principals, which critics hailed as “a night of extraordinary music-making”.

Goldberg Variations will be directed by NZSO Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen and features acclaimed New Zealand pianist Stephen De Pledge on fortepiano.

Bach’s masterpiece was first written for harpsichord. The 30 variations include arrangements for string instruments by Russian violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky and arrangements for other instruments by German conductor Heribert Breuer.

“The different instruments will add a huge amount of colour to the variations, making an already exquisite work even more mesmerising for audiences,” says Leppänen.

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