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By now it is clear that Vector Wellington Orchestra is pursuing two strands in its concert series this year. One is the cycle of piano concertos by New Zealand’s premiere Beethoven interpreter, Michael Houstoun. He’ll be playing Beethoven’s Third piano concerto for the orchestra’s July concerts. With this turbulent and dramatic concerto Beethoven strides into the territory of heroic music so unique to him.
The second strand spotlights New Zealand’s emerging Pasifika opera singers. VWO audiences have already heard Lexus Song Quest winner Aivale Cole in “Four Last Songs”. Now it is the turn of Benjamin Fifita Makisi. Like Cole, this Wellington-born tenor of Samoan and Tongan descent cut his musical teeth singing in the New Zealand Youth Choir and church choirs before studying for an operatic career. He now divides his time between regular appearances in Australia and New Zealand since winning Sydney’s prestigious McDonalds Aria Competition, with its $43,000 of prize money and international study scholarships. He has performed in London, Italy, Spain, New York, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Makisi will sing Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations. Written for Britten’s longtime companion Peter Pears, Les Illuminations is a tour de force for tenor. It crosses the territory of Rimbaud’s strange, dreamlike poetry to illuminate lines such as, “I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.”
The concert opens with the smart and jazzy dance suite based on Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway musical On The Town and finishes with an enduring popular favourite, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn, otherwise known as the St Anthony Variations.
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