New Zealand at Kings Place

March 7th, 2012

New Zealand at Kings PlaceThe New Zealand String Quartet will be joined this month by other leading New Zealand musicians, and some of this country’s top composers and writers at London’s acclaimed new venue, Kings Place, for a week-long festival of New Zealand music, poetry and ideas that begins on 26 March.

Two top New Zealand singers based in London, Jonathan Lemalu and Madeleine Pierard, and Māori instrument specialist Richard Nunns are featured in the mini-festival, performing works with the Quartet by New Zealand composers Gao Ping, Ross Harris and Gillian Karawe Whitehead. Works with multi-cultural influences by composers John Psathas, Jack Body and Michael Norris will also be featured.

Kings Place, which opened in 2008, is a state-of-the-art performance space and has an innovative programming concept, turning over the curation of its weekly programmes to the artists themselves.

“The musicians and composers of our concert series have traveled between an old world and a new one, have explored ancient and modern cultures and bring a contemporary view to folk and classical traditions,” says Helene Pohl, first violinist of the Quartet. “We’ve chosen to contrast fascinating new works by New Zealand composers, drawing on cultures as diverse as Greek, Chinese and Māori, with the spiritual journeys of Beethoven and Schubert.”

Peter Millican, visionary Chief Executive of Kings Place, was captured by the range of influences in the programmes. “King’s Place is very much looking forward to your week,” he wrote recently. “It is particularly appropriate that in the [London] Olympic year we are welcoming such an outstanding quartet from New Zealand.”

To complement the Quartet’s programmes, the short festival includes two other sessions. In the regular Kings Place “Words on Monday” slot, three generations of New Zealand poets, Fleur Adcock, Bill Manhire and performance poet Tusiata Avia, will read from their work, demonstrating what Manhire has described as New Zealand’s cultural shift “from old Europe to the new Pacific”.

And for the experimental “Out Hear” session, composer and director of Stroma Michael Norris has curated a programme called The Body Electric, in which a younger generation of New Zealand composers including Norris himself, John Coulter, Dugal McKinnon, John Croft, Alexandra Hay and Chris Black explore concepts of body and space by combining live musicians with electronics and multimedia.

The programmes take place between 26 and 31 March 2012.

New Zealand at Kings Place programme on the Kings Place website

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and HeritageWith the support of the New Zealand Government through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme.

Victoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand at Kings Place has been supported by Victoria University of Wellington in acknowledgement of the many musicians, composers and writers associated with the University who are featured during the week’s events.