P A S T N E W S
With Covid behind us, Leys Orchestra was grateful to present a full and uninterrupted programme in 2023. The flooding catastrophe in Auckland and across the North Island is another unwanted body blow no one expected. But Kiwis are resilient, help one another, and appreciate the rejuvenating effect of playing and listening to good music.
There were four concerts in 2023, starting with a return to Warkworth. The programme featured flute soloist Emily Rendall playing 'Ballade' by Reinecke, which was reprised in July for our first visit to Orewa in a long time.
Our 2023 heritage festival concert explored a little of the piano and harp in early Auckland social and musical life. The programme featured the origin and use of 'Chopsticks' and other beginner piano favourites.
The final concert for the year focused on baroque music by Locatelli and Telemann, paired with ballet music from Schubert's 'Rosamunde'.
It was encouraging to see progress at the end of last year towards restoration of the Leys Institute buildings. Submissions, including our own, as part of the public consultation on the concept plans are currently being considered by the Waitemata Local Board, and we look forward to their Business Report and decision on the preferred concept design.
In October, the Waitemata Local Board accepted a recommendation from Auckland Council to proceed with the final designs for restoration of Leys Institute, and to start the resource and building consent process.
They agreed to proceed with a scaled back Option 1, which isn't the full upgrade we ideally hoped for, but should solve the seismic issues and prepare for the possibility of the full restoration in the future, should funds be available.
Concerts for 2022 are in June, August, October and November. Solo oboe, oboe d'amore and cor anglais feature in the first two concerts, plus the premiere performance of 'The Celestial Gate of Praise' by David Hamilton in Warkworth.
We are looking forward to this year's Auckland Heritage Festival which was cancelled during lockdown in 2021. This concert focuses on the first conductors of Leys Orchestra, and some of the challenges they overcame. The programme highlights heritage music from that era, and also includes Herold's 'Zampa Overture', which featured in the first concert given by the Orchestra 110 years ago.
Following a successful concert in Warkworth in June, our planned performances in August and October were cancelled due to Covid lockdown restrictions in Auckland.
We were fortunate in securing a replacement venue and date for our 'Mostly Baroque' programme in November, and grateful to have the support of all six of our soloists who agreed to play in this postponed performance.
However, the extended Delta restrictions in Auckland led to cancellation of this programme for 2021. We will work hard to bring this wonderful music to our audience next year.
The Auckland Heritage Festival, and our concert, was cancelled in October. We hope the festival will continue next year and we'll be able to perform our planned programme in 2022.
We feel privileged to have been able to perform our Heritage Festival concert in October during this extraordinary year. However, Auckland's Covid restrictions during August and September allowed much fewer than the planned number of rehearsals, which necessitated reverting to a 'plan B' programme.
The audience were treated to an historical outline of the early days of the orchestra over a century ago, and the very wide uses of live orchestral music at the time. The programme included examples of the music performed in Auckland a century ago, plus the premiere of a new work, 'Pohutukawa', written by David Hamilton specially for the concert.
The orchestra was very fortunate to hold rehearsals and perform the scheduled August concert in Warkworth between the end of alert level 2 and the reimposition of level 3 in Auckland.
Players were very happy to resume rehearsals for the first time in 2020 on 4 June after the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
Players had earlier been sent their parts for the first concert via email so they could practice their parts and maintain musical skills and sanity during lockdown.
The piano piece 'Together' was also circulated. This was written by UK composer Debbie Wiseman especially for playing at home during pandemic restrictions. Debbie Wiseman is well known for film and TV music, and is the current UK Classic FM radio station Composer in Residence. The music is "dedicated to anyone in self-isolation in the company of a piano – or any other instrument or object that can make a sound". Beginner and more advanced versions are available for download.
David Britten was inspired to write an orchestral arrangement of 'Together' that would be played when the orchestra's rehearsals could resume – lending greater significance to the title 'Together'.
The first performance was at the opening concert for 2020 in Warkworth on 9 August.
Conductor: David Britten
Leader: Gordon Smith