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World expert on Bach to lead ensemble in Wellington concert

Press Release – Chamber Music New Zealand
“Musicianship is, to be sure, Mr Suzuki’s greatest strength … a subtle ear for color, a keen sense of harmonic direction, and an ability to make phrases breathe and rhythms live.” – New York Times

One of the world’s greatest experts in Bach’s music comes to Wellington this month leading the prestigious Juiliiard415 ensemble as part of a 10-centre nationwide tour in Chamber Music New Zealand’s Kaleidoscopes 2017 Season.

Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415 perform at the Michael Fowler Centre on Tuesday 30 May on the tour which also takes them to Auckland, Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

During Queen’s Birthday weekend a three-day Bach Cantata Residency takes place in Nelson with 40 singers and musicians from all over New Zealand, as well as Australia and England, registered to attend the workshop to explore the performance of Bach with Maestro Suzuki and the Juilliard415 ensemble. An Observers Programme includes opportunities to watch masterclasses, rehearsals and attend seminars as part of the weekend workshop.

Chamber Music New Zealand chief executive Peter Walls said this tour stands out as a highlight of the 2017 season.

“Masaaki Suzuki is one of the world’s greatest authorities on Bach and it’s incredibly exciting to have him lead Juilliard415 on this tour. We’re delighted to also be offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to New Zealand singers and musicians to participate in a workshop on Bach led by Maestro Suzuki and alongside the members of the ensemble.”

Masaaki Suzuki is renowned internationally for his performances and recordings of Bach and 27 years ago established the Bach Collegium Japan meeting criticism about Japanese musicians performing Bach by producing highly acclaimed recordings, completing the final recording of Bach’s church cantatas last month – an ambitious recording project taking 18 years and resulting in 55 CDs.

“I didn’t choose Bach from other composers – he is the natural result of my life,” Maestro Suzuki said.

With 19 members, Juilliard415 is one of the largest international ensembles toured by Chamber Music New Zealand. The ensemble includes a soprano soloist, eight violinists, two viola players, two cellists, a double bass player, a flautist, two oboeists, a bassoonist and a harpsichord player.

The ensemble is the historical performance programme of The Juilliard School in New York specialising in early music and providing opportunities for the graduate students to perform with the most eminent musicians of the early music world. The ensemble has a reputation for combining youthful energy with poise, precision and a luminous sound.

Violinist Alana Youssefian has previously played in a joint concert with Maestro Suzuki.He knew just what both ensembles needed to bring the concert to life, and both performances were a real joy to be a part of.”

She said historical performance is a growing part of today’s international music scene. “It seems that very recently more young musicians have decided to specialise in historical performance, and that has brought a fiery energy to the baroque world. There is still so much music to be explored the historical performance way, there aren’t any limits anymore!”

She added that, like many of the musicians in Juilliard415 she also plays modern music.

“Almost all of us received master’s degrees in modern performance before deciding to specialise in historical performance. I don’t find switching between the two difficult, but have realised that playing on my historical instrument speaks to me more than my modern instrument.”

The programme for the Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415 Wellington concert focuses exclusively on Bach works with two magnificent orchestral suites, the Concerto for Two Violins in D minor and the cantata Ich habe genug.

Mr Walls said it was significant that Bach composed these works for students to perform. “Maestro Suzuki is mirroring Bach’s intentions for these pieces.”

Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415 perform at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Tuesday 30 May at 7.30pm with a Prelude Series pre-concert talk at 6.45pm. Tickets are available through Ticketekwww.ticketek.co.nz or phone 0800 TICKETEK (842 538). For further details visitwww.chambermusic.co.nz/masaakisuzuki

The Bach Cantata Residency has received sponsorship funding from the Nelson Events Marketing & Development Programme, which is funded by the Nelson City Council. The Programme’s objective is to stimulate Nelson City’s economy in the shoulder and off seasons by bringing new spending through visitors coming to Nelson for distinct events.

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