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Extraordinary oboist to premiere spellbinding new music with NZSO

News: 12 November 2019

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s final Shed Series concert for 2019 features the world premiere of three haunting works composed and performed by acclaimed American oboist Russel Walder.

Image of American oboist Russel Walder is courtesy of the NZSO.

Walder has had the works arranged by renowned New Zealand composer John Psathas for the Shed Series concert Unwound at Wellington’s Shed 6 on 30 November. The concert will be conducted by Hamish McKeich, the NZSO’s new Principal Conductor in Residence.

“My music is about peeling back the layers of self-perception. We all have outer masks that get us through the day and my music is a doorway to what’s more authentic,” says Alder, who has performed with such diverse groups as Afro-Celt Sound System and Tibetan recording artist Yungchen Lhamo.

“Working with John Psathas and Hamish McKeich and NZSO is an amazing confluence of artists that I have great regard for. My path in music as an oboist and composer is about pushing the edges so far that it becomes the centre of a hybridised new genre.

“I’m excited to share this beautiful and moving evening with Wellington audiences.”

Walder’s extensive career has included a Grammy nomination for his contribution to the album A Winter’s Solstice. He was the lead actor in the 1999 New Zealand feature film The Lunatic’s Ball.

Unwound also features Duke Ellington’s intoxicating jazz arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Christmas-themed The Nutcracker Suite and Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Luther Adams’ Become River, a beautiful and meditative work, and part of his trilogy of lauded works with Become Ocean and Become Desert.

Drawing inspiration from American music giant Aaron Copland and others, Derek Bermel’s Canzonas Americanas includes elements of rock, funk and blues. The sights and sounds of Rio de Janeiro are evoked in French composer Darius Milhaud’s Saudades do Brasil. Japanese composer Toshiro Mayuzumi’s Rokudan draws inspiration from traditional Japanese music.

The Shed Series is designed to appeal to audiences new to the NZSO and for those keen to see the Orchestra perform outside a traditional concert hall. Audience members can sit or stand during the performances and buy a drink or a bite to eat throughout the evening. 

The concerts have proved so popular that, for the first time, the Shed Series will be presented in Auckland’s Q Theatre in April and September next year. Four Wellington concerts will be held in 2020, commencing on 31 January at Shed 6 with Symmetries.

Tickets to Unwound are $35 or $15 for students.

Shed Series Unwound





TCHAIKOVSKY/ELLINGTON The Nutcracker Suite (Selection)



RUSSEL WALDER arr. PSATHAS I. Conception II. Her Waters III. Phenomenon (World premiere)

MILHAUD Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67 (Selection)

DEREK BERMEL Canzona Americana: Mvts. 1-3 (New Zealand premiere)


WELLINGTON | Shed 6| Saturday 30 November| 7.30pm

Ticketmaster | 0800 111 999|

Updated on 8th October 2021