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NZSO has Lions’ share of great music for its bold British Festival

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra brings the best of British music and two of its biggest names to Wellington as part of a special festival.

The three-part British Festival kicks off with Lands of Hope and Glory on 30 June to celebrate the British & Irish Lions Tour.

Sir James MacMillan, one of Britain’s greatest living composers and conductors, along with virtuoso Scottish percussionist Colin Currie, will be the stars of the festival’s Bold Worlds and Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra concerts in July.

Image of Sir James Macmillan is courtesy of the NZSO.

Lands of Hope and Glory, presented by popular mezzo soprano Helen Medlyn, will feature some of the best-loved music from the participating nations in the Lions tour, including a medley of classic British folk songs.

“I am so looking forward to celebrating the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in music with the NZSO,” Medlyn says.

“The pieces they are playing are so evocative of each nation ... stirring the heart and lifting the spirits... and it will be such a wonderful treat to have the audience sing some of the countries' well-known folk songs with me. I can't wait!”

The concert, led by NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, includes Kiwi Douglas Lilburn’s uplifting Aotearoa Overture, which premiered in London in 1940.

Lilburn studied under great British composer Vaughan Williams and NZSO concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen will perform Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. This beautiful and haunting work continues to top polls as Britain’s favourite piece of classical music.

The audience will also love the majesty of Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 - the basis for rousing anthem Land of Hope and Glory.

Another highlight will be Peter Maxwell Davies’ An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, featuring prize-winning solo bagpiper Brendon Eade.

The medley of classic folk songs includes Ireland’s Danny Boy and Molly Malone, Scotland’s My Bonnie, England’s Scarborough Fair, Wales’ All Through the Night and New Zealand’s Pokarekare Ana.

For Bold Worlds on 8 July, Sir James will conduct his acclaimed Percussion Concerto No. 2, which was written especially for Currie. Bold Worlds will also include two more significant works by British composers - Grammy Award-winner Thomas Adès’ Polaris and Vaughan Williams’ rich and reflective Symphony No. 4.

Sir James and Currie will complete the British Festival by joining forces with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra for Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra on 14 July.

Sir James will conduct one of his best-known works Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and Benjamin Britten’s beloved Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. The concert will include the world premiere of works by young New Zealand composers Celeste Oram and Wellington-based Reuben Jelleyman, both National Youth Orchestra Composers in Residence.

Sir James has previously conducted the NZSO, but this will be the first time he will conduct the National Youth Orchestra. “I've been with the NZSO twice before and each time was a wonderful experience,” he says.

“I have always enjoyed working with young musicians, and have written for them over the years in various ways. I'm always keen to find out what new music is like in the various countries I visit. I especially enjoy performing new work by my younger colleagues.”

Bold Worlds will also be performed in Hamilton (6 July) and Auckland (7 July). Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is also performed in Auckland on 15 July.


Lands of Hope and Glory


HELEN MEDYLN Presenter and Mezzo


ELGAR Cockaigne (In London Town), Op. 40

BAX Three Pieces for Orchestra II. Irish Landscape

MAXWELL DAVIES An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise

LILBURN Aotearoa Overture


TRAD (arr HAZELL) A Folk Song Medley - Londonderry Air (Danny Boy), Molly Malone, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, Scarborough Fair, Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through the Night) and Pokarekare Ana.

ELGAR Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1


WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre| Friday 30 June| 6.30pm

Bold Worlds





JAMES MACMILLAN Percussion Concerto No. 2

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No. 4 in F minor


HAMILTON | Claudelands Arena| Thursday 6 July| 7.30pm

AUCKLAND | Town Hall| Friday 7 July| 6.30pm

WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre| Saturday 8 July| 7.30pm


NZSO National Youth Orchestra

Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra




CELESTE ORAM NYO Composer in Residence 2016 The Young People’s Guide to the Orchestra (world premiere)

JAMES MACMILLAN Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

REUBEN JELLEYMAN NYO Composer in Residence 2017 Vespro (world premiere)

BRITTEN Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell)


WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre| Friday 14 July| 6.30pm

AUCKLAND | Town Hall| Saturday 15 July| 7.30pm




Updated on 10th July 2017