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NZSO to perform for the very first time in Tonga next week

News: 12 June 2023

NZSO media release.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra embarks on a groundbreaking tour of Tonga from 19 June, where it will perform with young Tongan musicians, The Royal Corps of Musicians and the Royal Tongan Police Band, as well as present music workshops at several schools.

The tour is the national orchestra’s first visit to the Kingdom of Tonga.

The touring party will comprise 10 NZSO brass musicians, two NZSO percussionists, two NZSO Conducting Fellows, and three support staff.

NZSO Section Principal Trombonist David Bremner has taught and performed in Tonga for several years.

“Tonga is a very special place for me. They have had such a tough time recently, and we are so excited to be heading over to perform and work with the schools. I know the NZSO Brass and Percussion are going to have a huge impact over there, and we can’t wait to perform and teach in this wonderful country.”

Bremner, who is also Music Director of the National Band of New Zealand, says Tonga has a very proud tradition of brass playing. “We hope to inspire the next generation of players. It would be incredible to see young players inspired by our trip to one day join the NZSO.” 

The Conducting Fellows Anne Filimoehala and Sam Uatahausi, who are training as conductors with the NZSO, are Tongan-born and fluent in Tongan. They will be presenters during the NZSO tour and visit some of the schools to talk about their achievements as musicians and as leaders in their community.

NZSO Conducting Fellow Anne Filimoehala is courtesy of the NZSO.

“For the tour, I am most looking forward to listening to top tier musicians. As brass is appreciated so dearly in Tonga, it is so amazing to be part of such an awesome motive and I am very excited to be part of it,” says Filimoehala.

“As a second-generation kiwi, my parents have always instilled Tongan values towards myself and my siblings. A connection with the NZSO team is one thing, but to have the opportunity to go with them to Tonga – there really are no words to describe how grateful and blessed I feel to give back in a way I never have imagined.”

Image of NZSO Conducting Fellow Sam Uatahausi is courtesy of the NZSO.

“This is a fantastic opportunity and a key milestone in the NZSO’s transformation to a National Orchestra representative of modern New Zealand,” says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni.

“The NZSO recently developed their first ever Pasifika strategy and I’m very pleased with their progress embedding Te Tiriti principles into their organisation.  This tour is another step on their fantastic journey.”

During the week-long tour on Tonga’s main island Tongatapu, the NZSO will donate a timpani and drum kit for use by Tongan musicians.

The NZSO will join forces with The Royal Corps of Musicians and the Royal Tongan Police Band for a combined performance on 21 June.

On 23 June the NZSO will play side-by-side with musicians from Tupou College, during an evening extravaganza which includes separate performances by the college’s musicians and the NZSO.

The workshops at the schools will include some music extracts and demonstrations, useful tips for the students and conclude with a Q&A.

Tour funding has come from the Cultural Diplomacy International Programme (CDIP), administered by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Creative New Zealand, under its Pacific Arts Strategy, has funded the two NZSO Conducting Fellow students.

Updated on 26th June 2023