12 Mar 2017

NZ50 - Themes, progression and development

From The Sunday Feature, 2:00 pm on 12 March 2017
National Orchestra in the Auckland Town Hall

National Orchestra in the Auckland Town Hall Photo: [National Symphony Orchestra of the Broadcasting Service of New Zealand],1945-1966,PH-NEG-SP-3475d


Themes, progression and development

Featuring the voices of Peter Averi, Clare Galambos-Winter, John Hopkins, Ashley Heenan, Bill Main, Frank Gurr, Geoff Newson, John Dodds, Farquhar Wilkinson, Vince Aspey, Alex Lindsay, Neville Marriner and historic recordings of the  orchestra from Radio New Zealand's Sound Archives, now 'Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision'.

In 1958 the National Orchestra entered what's been called the 'Golden Era of John Hopkins'. He was only 29 but had already been conductor of the BBC Northern Orchestra for five years and was happy to come to New Zealand for new challenges and a better climate.  He brought enormous energy, enthusiasm and vision for the future.  He was soon conducting Proms concerts, schools concerts, studio sessions, opera and ballet seasons and promoting youth development and New Zealand compositions. He made the first commercial recording with the orchestra in 1959 and made sure it included a New Zealand work - Lilburn's 'Festival Overture'. 

Famous visitors during this period included Igor Stravinsky, William Walton and André Tchaikovsky.

When the original leader of the National Orchestra, Vincent Aspey, retired in 1967 the management approached New Zealander Alex Lindsay, who was then playing with the London Symphony Orchestra.  He came home and became the first 'Concertmaster' - a role requiring extra duties including sometimes conducting the orchestra as well as leading, and being responsible for artistic standards and discipline.

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