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Monday, May 30, 2022

Anthony Tonnon wins the 2022 Taite Music Prize

Whanganui-based singer-songwriter Anthonie Tonnon won the 2022 Taite Music Prize last night, for his critically-acclaimed third album Leave 'Love Out of This', picking up a $12,500 cash prize into the bargain

The annual award, which honours outstanding music releases from the previous calendar year, was a live event again, presented at Auckland’s Q Theatre last night. Tonnon, fresh off a nationwide tour, won over nine other finalists, including Luke Buda and Reb Fountain.

In his acceptance speech he thanked his wife Karlya Smith, his parents and “people and places that this album belongs to”.  He said he wasn't expecting to win because the “quality of the other contenders’ was so strong.

“The album is the pinnacle of what I’ve aimed for as a musician. It’s the novel to us musicians,” he said.

He's spoken about the album previously, saying that it was about being part of the first generation growing up in the economic experiment New Zealand launched into during the 1980s.  "This is a constant theme for me," he told RNZ, "it's been what I've banged on about through all my albums."

More than 300 artists, media and industry members packed out the Auckland theatre for the ceremony, hosted by NZ On Air’s Sarah Thompson. 

The ceremony was opened by 2021 winner Reb Fountain performing 'Sampson' and 'Don’t You Know Who I Am' from her last album, self-titled.

The award, named after the late journalist Dylan Taite, honours outstanding Kiwi albums. Judging is based on artistic merit, rather than chart success or popularity. Previous winners include Lorde, Reb Fountain and Ladi6.  

Sir Dave Dobbyn was also there, to present the Independent Spirit Award, which went to broadcasting veteran Karyn Hay, honoured for her trailblazing work on the 80s TV series 'Radio With Pictures', her career with Kiwi FM, documentary work and current host of RNZ National’s 'Lately' show.  Hay says that this work is "just a part of who I am. Being proud of something you have championed isn’t how I see the world. I just do it, and hope the end result will hit home.”

There was also a special commendation made by Rolling Stone editor-in-chief, Poppy Reid, to Alison Mau for her important investigative work with Stuff, focussing on New Zealand music industry practices and the link with sexual harm and prevention. She said Mau’s work “is an outstanding contribution to the industry.  John Tait, Dylan's son said "Her important investigative work for Stuff shone a light on unacceptable behaviour that has been ignored by the music industry for too long.  Ali’s powerful journalism gave a voice to the victims and started a national dialogue that's driving systematic change.”

There was also the inaugural Outstanding Music Journalism Award, which was presented to RNZ Tony Stamp, who took away $2500 cash to spend on his record collection. 

The Auckland Live Best Independent Debut went to Jazmine Mary for their debut album 'The Licking of a Tangerine'. The Independent Music NZ Classic Record award went to producer Alan Jansson for the 1994 Urban-Pacific street soul compilation, 'PROUD'.

Taite Music Prize 2022 winner Anthonie Tonnon's speech

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Review - 'Stranded Pieces' by Roaming Bodies (Bats Theatre 7 May 2022)

See Video on Vimeo

“Stripping back to Artist Matt Pine's connection to land/environment in his work grounds the work in uncovering possible connections. 

Finding what were before, the 'Stranded Pieces'.

In this multidisciplinary work, dance, music and theatre forge new contexts to relate to the work of Matt Pine. Inspired by Matt Pine's ‘Placement Projects’ that took place at Auckland's City Arts Gallery in 1978 and revisited in 2016-2017 at Te Papa

I most recently saw Caspar Ilschner in collaboration with fellow dancer Otto Kosok, musician Martin Greshoff, Designer Hollie Cohen, and Co-Producers Monique Gilmour and Isaac Kirkwood at Te Auaha as part of February’s NZ Fringe Festival 2022.  Their show, The Professio(nah), was a vibrant and absurdist take on the old adage ‘stop mucking about and get a job!’ 

Under Red Light settings, it was a bizarre, isolationist experience to attend, but as a dance piece, still highly creative and entertaining. 

Tonight’s piece, ‘Stranded Pieces’ is a different beast.  Performed in the sumptious dome room upstairs in Bats, it felt like a more 'polished' art piece.  

It appears like the solo work of Ilschner but is definitely a collaboration, this time under the moniker 'Roaming Bodies'.  Most are recent Toi Whakaari graduates.  It is a thought provoking contemporary piece, in search of the missing connections between the multitudes of self within community and environment.

In our current world, with the recent politics of vaccinations and masks, isolation, society divisions, working from home, social distancing, it is necessary to find the time and space to process our options as a community. Where are we going.  How do we ‘normalize’ the ‘new normal’?  and where does theatre sit in this? Dance and theatre is the mirror we hold up and we look at the fragmented light, searching for meaning and clarity.  How can this work in our modern society?

As a performance, each ‘piece’ is presented, like laying down a piece of a puzzle, to be shuffled and reshuffled.  They are bridged together through Ilschner’s own body moves in a combination of distorted shapes, expressions challenging and drawing you in.  There with sound, spoken word and live music build the picture.  Like Pine’s work, there are circles and, angles, segments and sections.

Roaming Bodies Stranded Pieces’s set and costume design are inspired by Matt Pine's ‘Placement Projects’ that took place at Auckland's City Arts Gallery in 1978 and a new installation at Te Papa in 2016-2017.  The company, Roaming Bodies, takes the ingredients for tonight’s incredible pot pouri of choreography, lighting and music from Pine’s work.

To begin, and dressed completely in a white (of purity?) Ilschner opens, playing what appears to be a modified trumpet, the sound lingering, haunting.  It’s like an old fashioned Roman regalia, announcing the start of something spectacular.  But then the lights dim and Hollie Cohen’s intricate, abstract Audio Visuals come on to create the first scene (Cohen also did the projections for The Professio(nah)). 

The visuals feature organic cells (or digital elements like a motherboard) mutating, expediential replication of themselves, like a virus – is this a reference to Covid, of the spreading of Fake News? 

Ilschner rotates his body in a prone position, he appears to grow like a cell, multiplying into a greater life.  Is this an artificial or organic body we are witnessing? 

With a sense of deliberate action, the bizarre and organic world reveals its self, as if its growing like an amoeba.  This man, creature, organic or digital body starts to create his environment then goes about ordering it, arranging, labelling and taming it like a garden from weeds to beauty. 

There is a direct reference to the minimalist work of Pine, like the architecture of Mies Van De Rohe, creating order in the simplicity.  Clear away the clutter, the noise of multiple ‘fake’ voices, the media noise of our Covid times, the anxiety of our times, breaking down the mayhem, the inevitable destruction. 

Ilschner changes to a white plastic suit with black stripes.  He tentatively puts it on, as if it’s an alien cloak of some sort.  Immediately I thought of our own reactions to having to put on PPE or masks.  There is a brief moment of hilarity as he clumsily tries to put his arms in to the sleeve holes, a strange mash up of music plays – a mix of tape loops, Tiny Tim and Ferris wheel music.  A candy coating to hide a more sinister, or clinical purpose for the clothing?   

His dancing becomes violent, frantic punching as if he’s attacking, or is he defending.  The lights become intensely blue.  Are we underwater?  Are we hurtling through space?  Is the blue calming? Or is it a symbol of sorrow?

Perhaps this was a storm, a tempest climaxing.  This white suited about, like an explorer. His arms seem to form a radar, and aerial, a searching device.  Either way, he appears lost, bewildered.

Is this where we are now?  Our place, in this world, is a place of uncertainty? 

Ilschner’s performance is mesmerising.  It’s so much more delicate than the clowning, clumsy expressions he chose for the ‘The Professio(nah)’.  The paper that was so prominent on the set of that show is here , too.  If a little bit less prevalent as it lines the back wall like an Otago plains landscape. 

But this is a different work, for sure.  He goes well beyond the simple vocabulary learned from his years at Toi Whakaari, and the natural flow that comes over is easy to interpret, even for someone like myself who is not familiar with the intricate world of dance.  That makes this show both even more enjoyable and accessible.  His method of plying each phrase, disrupted by a spring-like lurches or twitch breaks up the journey of movement, as if our very lives has been disrupted – and indeed they have.  Occasionally we get a surprise, with a moment or two of humour, shattering the serious mood. 

Sound artist Jackie Jenkins has been inspired, it seems by the sounds of water, organic matter, digital machinations.  The soundscape is a wash of blips and bops, scritching, samples from songs and EDM, also seemingly random, like a DJ scratching and mixing live, but in fact carefully curated to match the action on stage.

As needed for dance, particularly in this long, narrow space, is a minimal set, the ‘set’ mainly constituted by visuals and a few small black boxes, the ‘stranded pieces’, which become tangible and occasionally malleable props.

When Ilschner finally speaks, he gives voice to our own interpretations of the actions so far.  It’s a revelation that won’t fit neatly into a box.  These are the boxes that he’s just so neatly lined up in the previous segment.  Small black paper boxes.  One for emotions.  Another for friends, another for foes – way over there.  Things we understand, defined and categorised, suddenly smashed under foot.   And there are more, that will all be mixed and mashed.  Order will become chaos.  A swirling mess.  A metaphor for every day assaults on our mental health from distorted information, twisted realities, climate change and other impacts on our reality.   

You can see Pine's ideas coming through, especially in the way  Ilschner lays out his boxes in geometric patterns, like Pine's art (e.g Brick Work - see below) or the circles in works like 'Line Circles'.  Even in colleague Ralph Hotere's geometric shapes, which in turn inspired Pine.   

Colour is important, helped by the dramatic, textual visual affects of Grace Newtown, Max de Roy intern and the addition of Kaitlyn Johnston’s graphic design.

 I mentioned at the beginning that this was like a solo work.  Clearly it isn’t.  Perhaps there is only one man on stage.  But the imaginations of create this multiple layered narrative. There’s a logical arc to this piece, it takes us through to a messy and chaotic conclusion.  Not necessarily positive, but realistic all the same.  I really enjoyed tonight, it made me think, I was challenged and as a theatre goer I wanted more.  Its the second time I’ve seen Ilschner and his collaborators and I’m well impressed.  Watch this space.  

Once again thanks to Roaming Bodies for inviting me to review.  

They are a company of Wellington based artists:

Caspar Ilschner: Performer and Choreographer

Jackie Jenkins: Sound Design

Grace Newton: Lighting and Set Design

Max de Roy: Costume Design and Assisting Intern for Set and Lighting Design

Hollie Cohen: Projection Design

Kaitlyn Johnston Graphic Design


Brick Work

Matt Pine (1941–2021)

Matt Pine was born in Whanganui, attending Whanganui Collegiate School, and later, graduating from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Art (now known as Ilam School of Fine Arts) in 1959.  He went on to also attend Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating in 1962.

Following graduation he gained a scholarship to Hornsey College of Art and the Central School of Arts & Crafts between 1962 and 1964.  During hi time there Pine was involved with the installation of minimalist works by artists such as Sol Le Witt, Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin at the Tate Gallery.  That had a huge influence on his own practice.  He took inspiration from the constructivist and minimalist movements.

He travelled through Asia, Russia, Africa and Europe before returning to Aotearoa in 1974.  He worked on site specific mahi, while observing the formal aspects of Māori architecture and ancestral sites. In 1979 he met Ralph Hotere during a Frances Hodgkins Fellowship artist in residence in Dunedin.  Both artists were operating at the intersection between Te Ao Maori and minimalism.

Pine later became an art teacher and tutor around Whanganui region from 1976 to 1999, establishing Te Wa / The Space (which moved to Palmerston North in 2011). 

Pine’s art reflects his experience of international artistic movements, alongside Te Ao Māori. He made an important contribution to contemporary Māori art and the wider art of Aotearoa’.

CoffeeBar Kid

Friday, May 06, 2022

We say farewell to Rural tv broadcaster John Gordon

Photo: Stuff

Broadcaster John Gordon, famous in many households for his work on television programmes like 'Country Calendar' and 'A Dog’s Show', died at his home in Otautau last week, at the age of 78.

He worked on 95 editions of Country Calendar from 1976 to 1984 as as writer-director and occasionally in front of the camera.  But he became famous on small screens when he presented and commentated the sheep dog trials show 'A Dog's Show' for 17 years - 1977-94.

After leaving the show he became a freelance journalist contracting to television and radio, alongside other commercial companies.  During 1982-83 he directed five documentaries for TV, under the name of  'The Southlanders', featuring the province’s people, places, and events - 'Peg's Place (Taylor's Hotel, Ohai)', 'The Wyndham Anglers (Wyndham, Mataura and Mimihau Rivers)', 'The Forgotten Coast (Progress Valley-Waipapa Point and people who live there)', 'Married to the Place (views of Southland through an artist's eyes)' and 'The Settlers (new settlement in the Te Anau basin)'.

He also wrote a number of books including 'People Places And Paddocks', 'Mountains of the South', 'Three Sheep and a Dog, Out of Town', 'What's Its Name (dog names)', 'Fresh Fields' and 'Going There (about Gordon's time in Vietnam)'.

Gordon was a keen member of the Thornbury Vintage Tractor Club and their project – 'Southern Lands, the history of farming in Southland', which he supported up to his death.

Gordon also led two refugee welfare teams for the New Zealand Red Cross in South Vietnam, utilising his skills as an agriculturalist to people grow vegetables.

He worked for Volunteer Service Abroad through the early 1990s, as a farm manager and teacher in agriculture at a secondary school in Bougainville Island, Papua New Guineas.  Later he took a commission for VSA in Cambodia and developed a radio programme for Cambodian farmers.

John Gordon was a passionate Southlander, broadcaster and humanitarian and we will all miss him here at Groove.  Our lives were enriched by his Television, especially the way he brought rural New Zealand into our homes every Sunday night.  It expanded our young minds and made us all the better for it.  

Photo: Stuff

  See more clips from John Gordon at NZ on Screen

  See more episodes of 'A Dog's Show'  

  Other classic Kiwi TV moments

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Troy Kingi wins the 2021 APRA Silver Scrolls

Troy Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) has won the 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka for his funk-laden song ‘All Your Ships Have Sailed’ (published by Loop Publishing | Kobalt Publishing) taken from his nostalgia-filled record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar - the fourth album from Troy Kingi’s 10 10 10 series (10 albums in 10 years in 10 genres). 

'The Ghost of Freddie Cesar' is a deeply-personal record inspired by memories of Troy’s biological father who disappeared in 2005. While going through his father’s belongings Troy found a mysterious cassette tape with the name “Freddie Cesar” scribbled on the front – an exceptional yet relatively unknown African-American funk musician. Pulling from retro 70’s sounds, Troy Kingi and his band The Clutch bring to life a character inspired by his missing father and the music discovered on this mysterious tape. 

“Freddie Cesar gave me the memory blueprints or the spiritual blueprints for these waiata. And this particular one, I don’t 100% know what it’s about, but I feel like it’s about seeing your dreams pass you by, and not being able to retrieve them, but remembering you still have love for your whānau and love for your children and that’s enough purpose.” 

On the song, 'All Your Ships Have Sailed", Kingi told RNZin 2020 that "part of the song is mine," about his children. "Maybe it's a bit daddyish. I don't know if that song fits with the rest of the story, but I wanted to say it. "The rest of the song sounds like a drug deal is going down on a corner, but I added the bit about myself to give a reason for why he's doing drug deals; to support his family."

“I’m humbled and honoured to receive this award. Thank you to APRA and the wider community for allowing it so, for deciding I was worthy of this award. Much gratitude.” 

It is the third time Troy has been a top five finalist for the Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka, and the win (which is decided by votes from APRA members) is a wonderful acknowledgment from his songwriting peers on the impact of his work. It recognises his outstanding work, and will see his name engraved alongside other Aotearoa musical luminaries like Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams, Bic Runga, Ruban and Kody Nielson, Scribe and P Money, Chris Knox, Dave Dobbyn, and Shona Laing.

A special version of the song was performed by Dival Mahal and a band of nine wāhine toa to mark tonight's win.

Maisey Rika (Te Whānau-a-Apanui) and Seth Haapu (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi) were recieved the Maioha Award for 'Waitī Waitā' from Rika's album Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimatea. The waiata spotlights Waitī and Waitā, two stars that form part of the Matariki cluster, expressing their connection with each other and tangata whenua. 

Rika's song Hiwa-i-te-rangi was also in the running for the top award, which was the first time in 26 years a bilingual song had been included in the top five finalists. 

David Donaldson, Janet Roddick, and Steve Roche, who also perform as Plan 9, took out the 2021 SOUNZ Contemporary Award for 'The Bewilderness'. The Wellington-based trio released their album of the same name in June 2021 in response to the strangeness of Lockdowns and Covid, and the moments of calm amidst the ongoing chaos and displacement. 

Composer Arli Liberman's work in Sam Kelly's movie 'Savage' and New Zealand/Swedish composer Karl Steven's arrangements for a five-part fictionalised story about the Bain family, 'Black Hands', both got a 'nod' in the awards. 

All winners and finalists of 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Award:
Winner: Troy Kingi - All Your Ships Have Sailed
Maisey Rika - Hiwa-i-te-rangi
The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers
Anthonie Tonnon - Leave Love Out Of This
Tipene - Turangawaewae 

 2021 APRA Maioha Award 
 Winner: Maisey Rika and Seth Haapu - Waitī WaitāHaami - He AioMara TK - Toroa 2021 

SOUNZ Contemporary Award 
Winner: The Bewilderness by Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Janet Roddick, Steve Roche)
So flamed in the air by Neville HallKlein Fountain by Reuben Jelleyman 

APRA Best Original Music in a Film 
Winner: Arli Liberman for Savage
Ewan Clarke for The Turn of the Screw
Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper for Shadow in the Cloud 

APRA Best Original Music in a Series 
Winner: Karl Steven for Black HandsRhian Sheehan for The SoundsTom McLeod for Fight for the Wild

The full Top 20 list was chosen from over 250 entries by a judging panel of 10 fellow songwriters, who have each made wonderful contributions to the NZ music community. 

The judging panel were (in alphabetical order): Anji Sami (She’s So Rad), Finn Andrews (The Veils), Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins), Marika Hodgson (Sorrento, Troy Kingi, Kora, Teeks), Natalia Sheppard (MC Tali), Phil Bell (DJ Sir-Vere), Sarena Close (Mousey), Sean Donnelly (SJD), Tom Scott (Avantdale Bowling Club), and Tyna Keelan. 

2021 APRA Silver Scroll Award Top 20

'All Your Ships Have Sailed', written and performed by Troy Kingi (Published by Loop Publishing | Kobalt Music Publishing Australia)

'Anna (On My Life)', written and performed by Adam Tukiri and Rizván Tu'itahi

'BATHSALTS', written by Clark Mathews, Daniel Vernon, Christan Pianta, Hakopa Kuka-Larsen, performed by DARTZBrains, written by Madeline Bradley, performed by deryk

'Broken Chains', written by Tyree Tautogia*, Sidney Diamond*, Fred Fa'afou*, Ché Ness, Willie Tafa, Solo Tohi, Wasim A. Hussain, Darryl Thompson, Angus McNaughton, performed by Smashproof (*Published by Woodcut Productions)

'Don't Run', written by Sid Diamond* and Nathan King, performed by Sid Diamond (*Published by Woodcut Productions)

'Dragon Fruit (Feat. Louis Baker), written by Tony Sihamau, Lance Fepuleai, Harry Huavi, Louis Baker, performed by Team Dynamite featuring Louis Baker

'Guilty Love', written by Phillipa Brown*, Georgia Nott**, Tommy English***, performed by Ladyhawke and Broods (*Published by BMG Rights Management Australia, ** Third Side Music Inc |Gaga Music and ***Powerteam Tom Songs / These Are Pulse Songs (BMI). Administered worldwide by Concord Music Publishing | Native Tongue Music Publishing)

'Hey Mom', written and performed by Reb Fountain (Published by Native Tongue Music Publishing)

'Hiwa-i-te-rangi', written by Maisey Rika*, Callum Rei McDougall, Chris Chetland, performed by Maisey Rika (*Published by First Nation Music - Aotearoa)

'Jump Rope Gazers', written by Elizabeth Stokes*, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, Tristan Deck, performed by The Beths (*Published by Gaga Music obo Carpark Publishing)

'Laps Around The Sun', written by Mark Perkins, performed by Merk (Published by Native Tongue Music Publishing)

'Leave Love Out Of This', written by Anthonie Tonnon and Jonathan Pearce, performed by Anthonie Tonnon

'Lightswitch', written by Mona Sanei, Frank Eliesa, performed by CHAII (Published by Big Pop Music Publishing | BMG Rights Management Australia)

'No Flowers', written by Dallas Tamaira and Devin Abrams*, performed by Dallas Tamaira (*Published by Universal Music Publishing)

'Periphescence', written by Daniel McBride, performed by Sheep, Dog & Wolf

'Stand In', written by Deva Mahal and Aaron Livingston, performed by Deva Mahal

'Tangaroa', written by Henry de Jong, Lewis de Jong, Ethan Trembath, Niel de Jong, performed by Alien WeaponryTurangawaewae, written by Stephen Harmer, Maisey Rika, Troy Kingi, Tenei Kesha (10A), performed by Tipene, Troy Kingi, and Maisey Rika.

'Your Deodorant Doesn't Work', written by Stephanie Brown, James Fenimore Ikner, performed by Lips

For more information head over to APRA AMCOS NZ

Friday, March 11, 2022

REVIEW: Aotearoa NZ Festival Of The Arts: Adam Chamber Music Series - Concert 1: Voice of the Whale (Online until April 3 2022)

Adam Chamber Music Series – Artistic Directors, Helene Pohl (MNZM) and Gillian Ansell (MNZM) Concert 1: Voice of the Whale

Performers: Helene Pohl (Violin), Rolf Gjelsten (Cello), Nicola Melville (Piano), Bridget Douglas - Flute

The Chamber Music Series is a set of five separate concerts that artfully balance the familiar and the out of the ordinary.  The brief was to bring together works that were rarely heard works with the more familiar, such as the beloved Bach Chaconne, and to juxtapose them with other masterworks to enhance the emotional impact of each programme.

The series covers quintets for string quartet, taonga pūoro with a Romantic piano quintet, a performance of Mozart’s epic Gran Partita and the Enescu Octet in Chamber

Music spectacular, world music celebrating nature and emotion (‘Voice of the Whale’) and solace in a troubled world with Bach by Candlelight.  Sadly, in these Covid times we cannot attend in person. But if we did, then we’d all be crowded into the Michael Fowler Centre, wine in hand and buzzing with anticipation.  Alas, only the musicians were ably to step inside.  As a compromise, though 

‘Tonight’s’ concert was a digitally streamed event featuring the groundbreaking 'Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale' by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award winner George Crumb, Brazilian composer Heitor 'Villa-Lobos’ Assobio a Játo (Jet Whistle)' , Bacewicz’s Violin Sonata No. 4 and Rachmaninoff’s 'Trio elegiaque  No.1 in G minor'. 

George Crumb: ‘Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale)’

George Henry Crumb Jr. was an American composer of contemporary classical music, who early in his life chose to reject the modernist usage of serialism, popular at the time, instead developing a highly personal musical language which ranged from peaceful to downright nightmarish.  

What Crumb has written gives a distinct musical voice to the cause, whilst providing a richly vivid seascape and endearing empathy with these magnificent creatures.  At the heart of the piece is the contemporary relationship between humans and whale.  It’s something of a chronological journey touching on science, especially studies in underwater audio, and nods to whaling history and asks moral and ethical questions. 

For ‘Vox Balaenae’, Crumb was deeply influenced by the environmentalism movement of the 1970 particularly “save the whales” campaigns.  While inspired by recordings of humpback whale song, he avoids using tapes and asks the three musicians with their instruments.  

And it’s intriguing to watch as much as it was to listen to.  Flautist Bridget Douglas not only plays but also sings into the mouthpiece of her instrument while pianist Nicola Melville 'engineers' sounds from hers by manipulating and plucking the strings the strings like a harp or striking them gently with a tuning mallet.

Cellist Rolf Gjelsten emulates the high-pitched squeaks and squalls of whales calling to each other. 

Even more challenging, the performers must whistle, play bells and timpani, against a swelling tide of string, piano and flute that recalls the graceful movements through the waters and a juxtaposition to the anarchic squeaks of the whales' voices.

As the flagship piece, this experimental work was delightfully executes, with the performers clearly relishing the chance to push their instruments, and themselves, to the limits.

All players wear black half-masks and (in Crumb’s own words) efface “a sense of human projection, [the masks] will symbolize the powerful, impersonal faces of nature”.  

This particular performance includes hints of the oft-used blue lighting, which unfortunately isn’t very obvious on the small screen, to provide a visual immersion into the sea.  

I really enjoyed the way the piece begins with these individual whale conversations moving into a cacophony of chatter space, with the nose of the commercial sea threatening the harmony of the solitary.   

Grażyna Bacewicz – ‘Violin Sonata No. 4’

The following a Violin Sonata by Grażyna Bacewicz, an icon of Polish composition in the early 20th century, and a virtuoso violinist in her own right.  It is believed she wrote this for herself to play, as an evocative challenge of wilding swinging moods that range from highly gestural witty and even flirtatious.

Bacewicz was admired by Witold Lutosławski as ‘a distinguished Polish composer of the 20th century and one of the foremost women composers of all time’.  As a former pupil of Kazimierz Sikorski and then Nadia Boulanger, she then studied in pre-war Paris.  She referred to her music as falling into three periods: Period 1 - youthful, very experimental; Period II - atonal’; and ‘Period III ‘absolutely avant-garde in nature’.  This piece falls into that third category but remains accessible, even to new ears.  

In the first two movements, ‘Moderato’ and ‘Andante ma non troppo’, you can hear hints of gypsy dance and throughout ‘Scherzo: Molto vivo’ there’s a contrast between marching and Nationalist bands and mischievous tip-toeing, as a child would be sneaking through the backstreets during a parade.  The ‘Finale’ is a tension of nervous energy, like a secret about to explode out of the mouth. 

I don't really know the background of this work or the composer but now I'm very keen to find out more about her.

I found Helene Pohl's violin playing simply mesmerising.  Not only technically brilliant but just so commanding in the way she inhabited the very soul of the person I now know is ‘Bacewicz’.  I feel like I’ve just had a fleeting conversation, an introduction I need to return to.

Heitor Villa-Lobos - Assobio a Játo or Jet Whistle

Created for flute and cello by celebrated Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos ‘Assobio a Játo’ beautifully juxtaposes the flute and cello.  Described as "the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century Brazilian art music", Villa-Lobos was a prolific composer, writing numerous orchestral, chamber, instrumental and vocal works - over 2000 works by his death in 1959.  

True to his style of combining Brazilian melodic and rhythmic elements with Western classical music.  This is a voyage of discovery, expertly led by the flute of Bridget Douglas who literally flies across the notes, starting with a Hovering, as if in a slow rumba then building with a passionate defiance, as a tango and a samba combined. 

Sergei Rachmaninov – ‘Trio élégiaque’

The concert finished with Rachmaninov's ‘Trio élégiaque’, composed while he was still a student.  At the time it caused a sensation, due to the departure from the styles of the day.  The music was lost for many years, only to be rediscovered until well after his passing.  Even in his early days he was exploring the romantic, and this features sweeping melodies and depth of feeling for which the he will become well known for in his later years. 

Played as a Trio of violin, cello and piano, this has the old world cut crystal elegance we know and love. It's unashamedly romantic. Sweeping gestures, envelope you in satin cloaks of sounds, separated by voices on contemplation, angst, melancholy and jubilance. 

It's easy to see why it was eye opening at the time.  Today it would work well in the cinema as much as in the parlor, perhaps set against a vermillion sky.  This may be a remnant of Imperial Russia, hints at folk dancing, skating on ice at Gorky Park, perhaps, fur hats and mittens.  Dreamy scenes.  Lives long departed.  This is what came to mind. 

If the advantage of a festival is to educate and enlighten then this certainly achieved that. 

I am in awe, not only of the skill but of the amazing repertoire of this group and their knowledge and understanding.  It is difficult to shine a light on lesser known works, let along bring an audience into the auditorium. And to remain so compelling and engaging under pandemic/digital conditions is truly incredible. 

Hats off to this ensemble and to the production crew that have captured them so well. 

Full Programme 

George Crumb - Voice of the Whale (1971) for flute, cello and piano

Grażyna Bacewicz - Violin Sonata No. 4 (1949)

• Moderato

• Andante ma non troppo

• Scherzo: Molto vivo

• Finale: Con passione

Heitor Villa-Lobos - Assobio a Játo (The Jet Whistle) (1950) for flute and cello

• Allegro non troppo

• Adagio

• Vivo

Sergei Rachmaninoff - Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor: Lento lugubre (1892)

Available to digitally stream from Monday 7 March – Sunday 3 April 2022 

Saturday, March 05, 2022

REVIEW: Fringe Festival - Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairy Tales – Eliane Morel - Online

'Disenchanted' is a collection of songs that take the side of fairytale characters who feel they’ve been misrepresented and whose real stories have been overlooked by history and folklore.  This is their chance to put the record straight. 

For this show we visit the 17th Century of salon of Madame d’Aulony, known as the ‘Godmother of Fairy Tales’, for a subversive reinterpretation of some of old favorites (Madame d’Aulony was the one who originally coined the phrase ‘fairy tales’ or contes de fees). 

As a one woman show, Morel carries the plot and the music by herself, switching costumes and scenes with the help of her partially slightly unreliable ‘magic mirror’ (effectively a Renaissance version of Zoom, complete with glitches and Wi-Fi outages).   Normally, this show would all be on the stage  (as it was in Fringe Festivals in Adelaide and Sydney) but because of you know what, it’s all online.  She must instead, perform to a screen that gives back nothing, which must be hard for an actor used to a live response.  She delivers a plenty of witty one-liners and throwaways that, on stage would bring the house down.  Alas, on video they do fall a little flat, with no interjecting laughter or audience response, it does feel a little flat.  Morel has to engage her audience with an exaggerated effort, a bit like the way presenters work on children’s TV like ‘Play School’, leaving space for silent laughter.  We saw this recently on tv programmes like the Late Show with Steven Colbert, who was forced to perform from his apartment instead of the studio during Lockdown.  Without people, it fails somewhat.  Comedy like this really needs warm bodies to shine. 

Still the music helps, and once you get over the initial format cringe you can really settle I and enjoy.

Morel’s mission is to bring these well known fables into the 21st century – and we are reminded of the sad realities with must that we must all now live with.  She very cleverly dispels the myths of these fairytales with her often debauched modern twists.  It should be pointed out that these are not for children.  There are some R16 moments. 

She plays all the characters with more than feminist touch.

“In my stories, girls are trying to escape Aristocratic beast, not chase after them!’  Madame d’Aulony tells her own story of how she escaped an arranged marriage by getting her intended sent to the Bastille for treachery and tax evasion.  She has skin in this game.

It’s funny how some of the real-life fairy tales like the Weddings of Charles and Diana or Andrew and Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew have now been dissolved over time, as we learn the truth behind them.  It seems the facade hides what really happened when Cinderella married her Prince Charming.  On that, Cinder’s story is told from the perspective of Olga, a disgruntled stepsister, who bears more than a passing resemblance Samantha Markle and her madcap ramblings about Megan on cable TV. Olga and her sister, it seems are pipped by the activities of their stepsister, who after the wedding, instead of welcoming them to the palace has employed them as the Royal’s laundry mistresses.  We see a disgruntled Olga explaining this in song (sung to the tune of ‘Those Were Days, My Friend’), whilst sitting in a trashy backstreet laundromat, commenting about the golden couple’s recent abdication to escape the paparazzi and wondering if Prince Andrew is still available to date.    

Jack and the Beanstalk also gets a bit of a twist, with puns intended.  As the liberated goose that lays the golden eggs, Morel assumes the personality of the ‘egg-cited’ bird and sings (in egg-ceptional voice) about how Jack climbed the beanstalk to rescue her and her loudmouthed mate, the Magical Harp.  In the process she fills us in on what really happed during Jack’s escape and how the giant really dies.  As this ‘eggs-pose’ unfolds we learn how the recently liberated goose ditches Jack once the big guy s out of the way to set up her own golden egg laying business.  She figures she’s sitting on a goldmine, why not exploit it! 

What could be next.  Of course, it’s Mr Wolf (oddly from Transylvania – no explanation why) and that pesky girl – Red Riding Hood.  This time, she’s re-appropriated the song ‘Perhaps, Perhaps’ to argue why this wild canine is misunderstood. Wolf wasn’t eating Granny at all.  Well, not literally.  More carnally, if you get my drift.  There’s a scandalous cover-up that hides the truth behind the Wolf’s murder.  It turns out the wood-cutter is innocent after all! 

It’s all deliciously playful and subversive.  But watching this with the backdrop of the Ukrainian invasion feels particularly uncomfortable right now.  The Russian/Middle European accents hammer home the point - Is the Wolf Putin or Trump?  Or Us? Did we let him in win, despite his charm and big ears? 

Then there’s the ‘date rape’ #metoo version of the “Sleeping Beauty” fable seen through the eyes of a comatose princess molested by her future prince.  Prince Charming turns out to be a creep who takes advantage of girls sedated under the influence of charms and spells.  Is this Prince Andrew, Harvey Weinstein, or any male in a position of power turning a vulnerable situation to their advantage? 

The art, backgrounds and animations bring this performance to life, and there’s a real hint at the theatre that Morel was aiming at when she performed the show live.  They’d done their best with the high-quality production, and that softens the blow.  She uses all the familiar tropes of pantomime and story telling to deliver.  While the online version doesn’t really show Morel at the height of her powers Disenchanted is still a brilliant show and a nice distraction from reality for an hour – and a talking point for the next virtual water conversation.

CoffeeBar Kid



Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Fringe Festival - Chansons - Piaf, Brel and Me - Stefanie Rummel

The award-winning singer and actress, German born Stefanie Rummel presents “Chansons” her ‘musical theatre cabaret show’ about France.

‘Soul touching’ stories about life and songs from ‘Ne me quitte pas’ (Brel) to ‘Milord’ (Piaf) are performed in ‘Brilliant showmanship’ by Stefanie Rummel and her pianists.

Become part of the French way of living for one night without traveling and having jetlag. It does not matter if you speak French or not. This ‘Heart connecting performance’ can inspire our own lives by looking at other cultures. Online and offline shows are performed in theaters and cabarets in Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Finland, France, Norway, Edinburgh, Lathi, US...

It felt a bit odd attending my first Fringe show in my pajamas.  Usually, I’m all dressed up, glass in hand, chatting away to my newly met neighbor as the lights go down.  Not tonight. 

Instead, what I got was a ‘live’ zoom recording of her show, done as an interactive ‘workshop’.  It reminded me of those ‘garage’ performances bands tried to do during lockdown in 2020.  It sort of worked.  But nobody’s fooling anyone – this is not actually theatre.  It’s all online.  So, get used to it.  This is how we roll with covid.  It’s like that online gambling advert on the telly, you call the shots.  Watch when and where, how you like and with who you like.  You can even get crumbs in the duvet, no one will know.  Now on with the show.   

Rummel opens with ‘Ne me quitte pas’ written by Jaques Brel.  A soft, melancholic love song begging the listen to remain – “Let me be your shadow/ Don’t leave me…”  Perhaps a request for her online audience to settle in.  Accompanied only by piano, it’s a simple start but a taste of her usual performance.  It’s something we see a lot of in Wellington Fringe shows, but usually in person. 

There are interactions with her online audience and she tells stories of French culture.  Like a visit to clients that starts off as a 10-minute visit and morphs into a multi hour 7 course meal.  “After seven hours we left this place, and we are friends ever since!  That’s what makes life so special.”

Another tale is about a Gendarme holding up traffic for a snail crossing the road – ‘l'escargot est roi’

‘Milord’ from the ‘Little Sparrow’ aka Edith Piaf comes from a recording done in a jazz bar in Reykjavík and you can hear the murmur of the audience, their whooping and clapping.  I guess this adds a bit of live flavour. 

She asks her online audience about their aspirations and plans for the future.  They share.  Two of the have plays and musicals that need to be staged once they get out of lockdown.  Rummel notes that these are big things.  Her next song is the opposite, ‘Je veux’ is about the little things.  It’s hilarious, with a kazoo accompaniment, she sings ‘I need your love, joy, humour/ I prefer a hand on the heart…”  This is a song I didn’t know but I really enjoined bon vivant of the performance. 

She also shares a short video she’s made about ‘The Bridge of Avignon’;teaches her audience a song from the 18th Century, which we know as ‘Frère Jacques’.  They join in, very badly, partially due to lagging. Partially due to bad singing.  We then get another video, this time with puppets, which was a bit naff.  Like an international Muppet delegation.  Still, it made me giggle.

She tells stories about shopping and the French love of art, fashion and design.  We get another video with the Muppets, this time about art.  This is follows by another Piaf song about a woman who falls in love with a musician (‘L’Accordeoniste’). 

She also does a the original of ‘My Way’.  Apparently, David Bowie was the first person to write English lyrics to the original tune of what eventually became the global hit.  But it was French man Claude Francois, a big name in his native France, who wrote and performed the original song called ‘Comme d'habitude’ ('As Usual).

Rummel is clearly fluent in French and sings like a native.  She’s studied the nuances and subtleties of each chanson and this clearly comes through.  A master class is French cabaret.  

“What we can’t say.  And what we can’t be quiet.  The music is expressing.’ – Victor Hugo

Book to see this show -

Friday, February 25, 2022

There's a giant Wheke in Wairepo Lagoon and other things - Kura Moana - Aotearoa NZ Festival Of the Arts

Experience this gift to Wellington as you wander the waterfront and discover local stories animated in new ways.  Artist in Focus, Lisa Reihana has created Kura Moana, a series of instalations around the Capital's harbour as part of the Festival of the Arts.  They are:

- Pūrākau - City to Sea Bridge - Jervois Quay
- Te Wheke-a-Muturangi - The Adversary - Whairepo Lagoon 
- Kupe Raiatea - He Karanga - Taranaki Street Wharf Tableau 
- Vivant - Te Papa Lagoon Te Wheke - The Battle - Te Papa Lagoon 
- Ngā Kaikanikani ō te Rangi - The Sky Dancers - Waitangi Park

Pūrākau - City to Sea Bridge - Jervois Quay The magical presence of the giant wheke (octopus) Te-Wheke-a Muturangi is all around you. Augmented reality reveals Te-Wheke-a Muturangi against the Wellington skyline. 

Use the QR code to download the app to see and hear a Pūrākau. Te-Wheke-a Muturangi speaks about being a goddess while taking selfies. She hovers above the pouwhenua of Para Matchitt’s bridge, their navigational symbols mark the original waterfront. 

You can download the Pūrākau app from Apple Store & Google Play.

The creator of this work Lisa Reihana talks about her time as Artist in Focus and her work for the festival in the video below.  


Learn all about these free interactive installations at: AOTEROA NEW ZEALAND FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS

Thursday, February 24, 2022

GROOVE AT THE FRINGE - The Professio(nah)ls by the Sincere Muckabouts / NZ Fringe Festival 2022

NZ Fringe Festival 2022 The Professio(nah)ls Creatives Caspar Ilschner and Otto Kosok, with Music by Martin Greshoff, Design by Hollie Cohen, and Co-Produced by Monique Gilmour and Isaac Kirkwood. Te Auaha, Dixon Street, Te Aro. From 18 Feb 2022 to 23 Feb 2022 

The PROFESSIO(NAH)LS is the brainchild of recent graduates from Toi Whakaari and the New Zealand School of Dance, especially Otto Kosok and Caspar Ilschner who have teamed up on stage with composer Martin Greshoff to create a vibrant and absurdist take on the old adage ‘stop mucking about and get a job!’ 

The Professio(nah)ls combines choreographer Caspar and Otto’s curiosity for relevant topics with their shared sense (or rather non-sense) of humour. As a result of this, the two have assumed ‘Sincere Muckabouts’ as their company name. The work was created at Toi Pōneke Arts Centre over a three-week-long development and saw its debut last May at Little Andromeda Theatre in Christchurch. 

The premise revolves around two dancers (Kosok and Ilschner) who are obviously fish well out of their waters. They must nervously navigate the alien world of the corporate office. In their choreography they demonstrate deftly the awkwardness of their new environment led by Greshoff’s very clever retro digital soundtrack. 

As a team, they all come across as charming, a bit wet behind the ears and a tad buffoonish. And that’s how this company, Sincere Muckabouts manage to smash up the mundane and challenge what it means to be always busy doing ‘busy’, being ‘flat out’, and bonkers concepts like meetings about meetings, the pointlessness of filing files and all other stuff we take for granted in office culture. Oddly, in these Covid days, we almost miss the office. 

It seems a bit of a nostalgia trip to return to this, when getting stuck in the elevator, losing a stapler, a jammed photocopier or being late to clock in due to a train strike actually mattered. Designer, Hollie Cohen and producers Monique Gilmour and Issac Kirkwood have creating a brilliantly coherent narrative and a perfectly wonderful interactive set that will literally be destroyed and re-made in front of your eyes. 

The show opens on a set of three cubicles, all lined with paper – like the kind a printer spews out all day. The walls of the dividers are lines with that bleached cheap newsprint that comes in a large roll and we like to write our mind maps and brainstorms on. Each desk has computer and a phone, similar to the kind you’d find in a mid-90’s ‘Dilbert-ville’ open plan office. Two young newbies arrive, nervous and spooked by this alien environment. It’s very different from the classrooms, dorm rooms and lecture halls they are used to. Like many of us on our first day, they struggle to navigate. 

Of course, the computers don’t work. So, our duo follow the blue ethernet snake along behind a wall of white file boxes to a huge tangled web of cables. Their first dance piece is a short slapstick wrestle with the ‘web’. It sets up the comedy brilliantly, and we all can relate to this scene. We’ve all been there. Intermittently, Greshoff’s keyboard and computer emits various symphonic blathers constructed of synth chords, desk phone ring tones, fax screaming and internet dial-up blips. Anyone who worked in a 90’s office would clearly remember. Think Kraftwerk and Eno with a smattering of humour by The Devine Comedy (remember their song ‘Office Politics’?). 

In my favourite, scene Greshoff, who until now been noodling around in his own cubicle, stands up and approaches the other two. Like an auditor he prods and poke, scribbling on his clipboard, checking and assessing. One by one the players show off their ‘office skills’ – stapling, typing, shredding, etc. The tasks become more and more ridiculous, morphing into a completely unexpected peacock display of breakdance moves. The piece moves from brown-nosing to showing off – awkward newbies become the ‘lads about town’. 

Another well executed moment is when Kosok gives a painfully self-conscious ‘presentation’. We all know how this goes. Bob from accounts has come to tell us about the sales predictions – or some other such tediousness. This ‘Bob’ blunders through the whole thing, waving around meaningless sales figures, fumbling with names (he refers to the CEO as ‘executed’), mumbling and blah-blah-ing his way through the entire thing. 

Platitudes, equipment glitches, unreadable spreadsheets, acronyms, and all the other pointless clichés we endure through during tedious office meetings. As the show moves on, the mood changes and the two workers become rivals. They fight, then clown about becoming more and more chaotic and crazy. They eventually destroy their office – the fragile paper walls are torn, balled up and shredded. The boxes, stacked like bricks at the back of the stage are smashed. Out of a briefcase comes suit clothes. The twosome use these to build an effigy of their boss - A guy to be burned, I wonder. An act of ridicule and fun. There is a climatic moment when this whole world explodes. In the aftermath the two walk amongst the rubble like survivors of a devastating earthquake. This is the only piece in the show I didn’t quite understand. Perhaps this is a corporate stock crash, literally. Like the fate of real companies, this is an empire that’s is destroyed, literally torn up – on paper and in person. 

But the devastation doesn’t last. They rebuild the box wall, this time in front of the stage while a short black and white movie is projected over the the construction. Roger Waters would be proud (or sue!). Once again, we get the absurdist. Like an old Jaques Tati film, it’s played back at double speed, an image of a man working with what looks like a human sized puppet. He’s trying to pose it and manipulate the body into the required shapes. I wondered if this was a reference to corporate grooming and institutionalism. 

Until now the dance aspects of the work had been limited. But now they start to flourish. The action is physical and fluid. Two bodies write in competition and in unison. This is like the two newbies, interns forced to be rivals, being both buddies and competitors, vying for that job dangled like an unreachable carrot in front of them. 

Overall, I loved this mix of dance, performance and comedy because it spoke tome at a level I could really understand. I’ve been to those meetings. I’ve been that newbie on my first day. Hell, I’ve even crawled under a thousand desks trying to find the right port to plug that damn cable into. They really got it. The show connected with the audience, who all got it too. 

Special mention for the use of the projector, literally as a lighting tool at times creating white cells to divide the cubicles and create washes of colour, gobo effects and, of course that manic movie.

This was a confident, clever work using a simple, straight forward theme. Well executed. It deserves to be seen again. Sadly, our Red-Light setting limited the audience to an exclusive number. I wish I could have taken my children, my partner and my colleagues at the office I work at. Perhaps some came with an expectation of more dance – more choreography, in the traditional and conventional sense. They saw movement and narrative. It was different. But ask yourself this – do we not plan and arrange our professional selves, wear make up and costumes, and hide our real person from the theatre of the corporate? We too, are performers, we dance to the tune of a boardroom, shareholders and managers. Just not as well as these Sincere Muckabouts.

CoffeeBar Kid

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

THIS JUST IN: Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2022 goes online

Due to the rise of Omicron the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2022 has had to pivot to present a revised digital programme for you. We are relieved and excited that we can offer a series of writers events that you can watch from anywhere. 

Browse the programme, pre-book on a pay-what-you-want basis and stream great conversations with some of Aotearoa and the world's best writers right to you. 

See the writers programme online here.

There have been some brilliant RNZ interviews with some of our writers in the lead up to this programme. Kaya Wilson, Elif Shafak, Mariana Mazzucato, Whiti Hereaka ... if you haven't read the books yet then these are a great way to learn more about these incredible thinkers before you view the digital events. These books are all wonderful so if you need to stock up then head to your favourite bookshop to stock up on all these authors.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

This Just In: WOMAD 2022 Cancels, back in 2023

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

WOMAD NZ wants to thank everyone for being patient and understanding while we've worked through all our options to safely present the festival in March.

With deep sadness, we are announcing WOMAD NZ is no longer going ahead for 2022.

We all had great expectations of bringing the festival back to Taranaki after disruptions due to COVID 19 in 2021. It is heartbreaking to cancel for the second year in a row due to circumstances entirely out of our control.

Our team has cautiously forged ahead with planning for 2022 over the last few weeks. The decision to cancel has not been made lightly. There is too much uncertainty surrounding large festivals and events, and what the growing threat of Omicron's spread in the community means. Ensuring the safety of our festival and the people of Aotearoa continues to be at the forefront of our response.

To our artists, performers, traders, crew, volunteers, and sponsors who continued to stand by us and contributed so much – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

WOMAD NZ is also deeply grateful for the additional security of the one-off underwrite of nearly $2 million that New Plymouth District Council approved to allow TAFT to run the 2022 WOMAD festival. Also acknowledging the Government’s Events Transition Support Scheme recognising the important role our festival plays in the region of Taranaki and ensuring the future of the festival.

Justine Gilliland, Venture Taranaki Chief Executive says, “It’s another major blow to the region that WOMAD, a highlight for many locals and visitors, has had to follow suit along with several other events this summer and cancel. Venture Taranaki supports TAFT’s decision as completely understandable under the current circumstances and uncertainty.
“In 2020 WOMAD’s economic impact on the region was $6.1 million. We look forward to supporting TAFT to present WOMAD again in Taranaki for 2023 and will welcome the positive flow-on effects the festival has on the region."

WOMAD and TAFT have worked hard to create an award-winning festival in New Plymouth, and WOMAD is regarded as one of the most important events on New Zealand's cultural calendar.

Director of WOMAD International, Chris Smith comments “The WOMAD festival attracts thousands of visitors to the Taranaki region each year and has rightfully gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful outdoor festivals in the world.”

We're already setting our sights on WOMAD NZ 2023, our most exciting festival year yet, as we celebrate 20 years of WOMAD NZ making its home in the stunning Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki home. With the news that our borders will open on the horizon, it's looking highly likely that WOMAD NZ will be able to bring together artists from all over the world again over three incredible days of music, arts, and dance.

To our festival ticket holders, your tickets will roll directly over to WOMAD NZ 2023, our 20-year celebration, which takes place 17 - 19 March 2023. Nothing changes and all tickets will remain valid and at the 2022 prices! We hope you will all join us for the 2023 - 20-year event!

If festival goers cannot make our 2023 dates, refunds will be available through our ticket outlet Ticketspace, at face value. Please bear with us while we work this process with our ticketing agent Ticketspace.
We will email all ticket holders with further information about your options.

We now look ahead to channelling our energy into creating a truly magical experience for WOMAD NZ 2023 - a 20-year event!
 - Chris Smith - Director of WOMAD International  & Suzanne Porter – CEO Taranaki Arts Festival Trust

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Roger Fox made Companion of New Zealand Order Of Merit

Jazz stalwart promoter and band leader Rodger Fox for nearly half a century has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Fox, as we all well know is a a trombonist, leader of his big band leader, a musical director and educator. He  was recognised for his services to music in this year's New Year honours.

It came as 'a bit of a surprise', but he said in the Press, that it was a good chance to showcase Jazz.

He told “I think it’s good for the arts really, it’s given them this sort of prominence, anything which can foster the arts and show there’s stuff happening in New Zealand in the arts, it’s all good, especially when it comes to jazz and big band music.”

The Rodger Fox Big Band had been a permanent fixture of New Zealand jazz music, and Jazz Festivals around the motu for nearly 50 years. They not only tour but also touring make contributions delivering workshops and promoting jazz music.

The band will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the end of 2023.

“When I first started it," he told RNZ,  "I wasn’t thinking 50 years down the track, you know, I probably wasn’t thinking 12 months down the track.”

He's had many highlights, including the Montreux Jazz Festival in the 1980s, At a time when no other Kiwi had performed there. He was a tutor at Massey University School of Music in the 2000s, becoming an Honorary Doctor of Music in 2005. And is currently senior lecturer at Victoria University (where he's been since 2011).

Fox came from a musical family. Both parents played, he said. So, it was inevitable that he'd go into music, too.

Congratulations, Roger. From all of us at Groove!