“There are very few live musical experiences like a full orchestra,” says Adán E. Tijerina, general manager of Orchestra Wellington, the longest-running city-based orchestra in New Zealand. Sitting across from me at a soda bar near Cuba Street, Tijerina speaks passionately about the power of orchestral arrangements, and the relationship between classical and popular music.
Appointed to his post two years ago, in the intervening time he’s overseen our orchestra’s branding shift from the Vector Wellington Orchestra to Orchestra Wellington. He has also worked alongside the board and musical director/composer Marc Taddei to push the organisation into the future, while simultaneously remaining respectful towards the sense of tradition Orchestra Wellington has cultivated over 62 seasons.
During their 2014 season, the orchestra will continue down this path. “The featured cycle of the year is the inclusion of all of Joseph Haydn’s Paris Symphonies,” Tijerina reveals, before enthusing about their importance to Taddei. Alongside this, he notes that Haydn’s symphonies will be juxtaposed with romantic song cycles by Mahler, Richard Wagner and Mozart, as well as an eclectic mixture of music from Stravinksy, Rimsky-Korsakov and Orff. Also exciting is the world premiere of new work written especially for Orchestra Wellington by composer-in-residence David Downes.
This year, Tijerina and Orchestra Wellington have worked hard to attract new ears to orchestra events, whilst maintaining the sensibilities that attract their core audience. Working to a theme of investigating how popular music influenced and inspired classical composers during the 20th century, they’ve hosted concerts this year that have included a saxophone quartet and jazz rhythm section solo within the orchestra, as well as vocal appearances from world-renowned bass baritone Jonathan Lemalu and much-loved folk-roots singer Warren Maxwell (of Trinity Roots and Little Bushman). As part of this, the orchestra matched works from the foundational greats with recent pieces by New Zealand composers such as John Psathas, Juliet Palmer and Karlo Margetic.
As important as it is to deliver this magic during their season of performances, something equally vital is the delivery of orchestral music into the community at a grassroots level. Thanks to some recent Wellington Regional Amenities Funding, this work will continue with local people over the months to come. “That will go directly towards supporting the growth of our outreach and community development activity,” explains Tijerina.
While this engagement includes some concerts with broad family appeal, it also allows the orchestra to continue partnering with Arohanui Strings to produce a school holiday programme in the Taita/Pomare area of Lower Hutt. “We’ll potentially extend these activities to other areas, and also develop a dynamic small-ensemble programme that takes music to schools in the Wellington region,” Tijerina says.
Through these projects, the orchestra is creating opportunities that allow children to hear, play and understand orchestral music from a young age. In the process, Orchestra Wellington is building fresh foundations for the continued appreciation, support and love for the rich traditions of classical music and the power of the orchestral experience.[info]
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