Former All Blacks hooker Anton Oliver has said, “In New Zealand we seem to have a mutually exclusive arrangement where the arts are over here and sports are over here, and never the twain shall meet”.
Introducing this concert, NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake says:
Our Lands of Hope and Glory concert is our way of showing that when it comes to the arts and sport, those imaginary barriers are meaningless. They can come together and we can enjoy and celebrate both.
The tradition of the British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand is more than a century old. In planning our programme, we wanted to present music from all the Lions nations and New Zealand which embodied the spirit of each and our strong links.
Douglas Lilburn was the first New Zealand composer to have a work performed by the NZSO. He got in early, with the orchestra playing his Song of the Antipodes in 1947, our first year. Tonight we open with his uplifting Aotearoa Overture, which had its premiere in London in 1940. Lilburn wrote Aotearoa Overture while studying in London with Vaughan Williams.
It couldn’t be more appropriate than for us also to perform Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.
It’s topped polls as Britain’s favourite piece of classical music and like Aotearoa Overture, conjures the landscape and essence of their respective homelands.
Edward Elgar’s magnificent Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, the basis for the rousingly patriotic Land of Hope and Glory, is guaranteed to energise the entire audience, regardless of which team you’re supporting. New Zealand mezzo Helen Medlyn will be your consummate guide for our finale, a medley of classic folk songs from the tour nations.
No one can resist Danny Boy, Molly Malone, My Bonnie, Scarborough Fair, All Through the Night and Pokarekare ana. To hear them performed by the NZSO under Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, will also be a reminder of why they’ve become anthems in their own right.
First half - ELGAR: Cockaigne (In London Town); BAX: Three Pieces for Orchestra, No 2 Irish Landscape; MAXWELL DAVIES: An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise. Brendon Eade (bagpipes) with NZ Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hamish McKeich.
Second half - LILBURN: Aotearoa Overture; VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: The Lark Ascending; TRAD arr Hazell: Song Medley; ELGAR: Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D. Helen Medlyn (mezzo), Vesa-Matti Leppänen (violin), with NZ Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hamish McKeich.
Recorded 30 June 2017, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert.