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OPUS Orchestra is a professional chamber orchestra that plays a vital role in the creative life of the region. Concert series are held in Hamilton, Tauranga & Rotorua,  and occasionally Putaruru and Taupo.  OPUS attracts internationally recognised conductors such as  Holly Mathieson, and soloists such as Mark Hadlow and Simon O’Neill.  Opus has had Peter Walls as Music Director and Principal conductor since 2009.

Along with ‘Sunset Symphony’, performed to crowds of more than 5000 each summer, and education concerts attended by 1500 Waikato school children, TWSO also present two symphonic concerts each year.  In 2017, with the support of Creative NZ, the education concerts were  livestreamed to rural schools . This all volunteer player orchestra has been performing in Hamilton for over 100 years and has been led by Rupert D’Cruze since 2007.

Established in 2017, OCTavo comprises of twelve professional musicians. The group made their debut at Sensing Music, performing 'Sonoscopia', a commissioned work by Dr Jeremy Mayall, and then in a different configuration of only string players presented 'Music in the Round'. OCTavo is an agile, innovative ensemble available for both public and private concerts. 

Youth Orchestras Waikato offers a year round programme of activity including workshops, camps and a Senior Youth Orchestra aimed at 12-18 year old musicians. Led by Tim Carpenter, and overseen by Rupert D'Cruze, Artistic Director - Community, the programme contributes directly to growing the ecosystem of orchestral music in our region, giving young musicians opportunities to develop and play together. 

This orchestra is for everyone! More than 50 musicians of all ages and abilities meet for the sheer pleasure of playing together and making music.   Upcoming events in 2018 include training workshops for players, a ‘pop-up orchestra’ , all-comers ‘just play it’ day , and at the end of the year ‘A Very Rusty Christmas’ with the fledgling Rusty Singers. 

ODE TO JOY BUILDING A LEGACY OF ORCHESTRAL MUSIC Orchestras Central recently redeveloped our 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, and the commitment to growing the 'orchestral scene' in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty is right at the heart of it A paradigm shift occurred in the mind of the musicians of one of NZ's orchestras.  At over one hundred years old, it was finally apparent to the players 'on the day' that they alone were not the Orchestra.  In retrospect it's obvious - the 'Orchestra' had existed long before any of them had even been born, let alone played an instrument, and would continue to do so long after they were all gone. We can take this insight and use it to mold our own thinking when it comes to strategy.  It starts with knowing purpose - why do we even exist in the first place? To understand, articulate and communicate purpose is the starting point to creating a vision, and its even better if it can be articulated in just a handful of words. I'd guess it's highly improbable that an Orchestra of a century ago spent much time in workshops, forums and brainstorming sessions thinking about that, but I'd bet my last concert ticket that they knew right from the beginning what they were about.  In the case of the Orchestra it probably went something like this - we want people to have somewhere to come and listen to great music - we want players to have somewhere to come and play great music - we want to contribute to our community through the arts, and,  - we want to make a difference in the lives of the people we connect with How do we ensure  an organisation is strong, resilient, but true to its vision and purpose? It requires extraordinary vision, tenacity and sometimes even just a little bravery.  What can we do better, differently, less of, more of? Whatever is decided, change needs to align with purpose. After all, just because an entity existed long before the current workforce, if it is to continue long after, maybe the way we do business now, the way we plan for the future, and the way we dream about what could be might need to change too. And that's because the world is changing so rapidly around us we may have no choice but to change with it.   Creating a legacy is a fundamental part of the activity of many organisations.  How does what we do today impact on the future of the organisation?  How do we create a legacy that lasts beyond our own lifetimes? The people and the environment (and the current needs) might change but the premise remains the same to uncover the purpose, to work out who can lead the evolution, or revolution, if that's whats required, and to create a unified sense of 'this is bigger than all of us' is key to success.

In the case of Orchestras Central, our purpose is little different to what it was in 1906 when the Waikato Minstrels (for that's what they were called!) was established. They might not have used the language that we do but the Minstrels also knew that they existed to bring the joy of orchestral music to our community. I'm exceptionally proud of what Orchestras Central has achieved in the two and a bit years since it started. To put the community at the heart of what we do is to truly engage everyone on our journey. That has been a challenging  but ultimately rewarding and fruitful journey. There have been many changes, many new activities, many different ways of doing what we've always done, as well as continuing to deliver the much loved and treasured experiences our musicians and audiences look for.  This week we were advised by Creative New Zealand that we are one step closer to sustainability, will acceptance to apply for the 'Kahikatea' funding. If successful we will be the first organisation in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty to receive this.  There's still some way to go, but with the OCT vision of being a unified sustainable organisation we have every chance of success.  Honouring our musicians and our loyal concertgoers, whilst continually looking for new and exciting ways to engage new ones - and to be heard and seen about the already crowded arts calendar - let alone the myriad of other options available to our audience and musicians is a daily challenge. But what will truly make the difference is how we create the lasting legacy that will still be thriving long after the current Orchestras have stopped playing.

Susan Trodden

CEO - Orchestras Central

EDUCATION AND ENGAGEMENT THE MAGIC INGREDIENTS TO FORM A LIFELONG LOVE OF ORCHESTRAL MUSIC Most Orchestras deliver some kind of 'education programme' to school children, usually in the form of a concert featuring well known classical music. TWSO have been doing this for many years, but Orchestras Central CEO Susan Trodden noticed that there was almost nothing available that had a distinctly New Zealand voice. So, with the support of funding from Creative NZ, she created 'The Pied Piper of Pirongia'. As well as the thoroughly modern narrated story, supported by music performed by the full Symphony Orchestra, the programme included a digital learning book that could be used by teachers before and after attending the concert. The performance itself was livestreamed so that rural schools could take part.  ''The education concerts are extremely popular with schools , who bring busloads of children from all over the region, but it was time to modernise the content without compromising the quality or teaching significance" says Susan. "And we want children to really understand how seeing a live orchestra can spark a lifelong love of music''.  Sarah Hare, Programme Co-Ordinator at Inside the Orchestra noted the long term benefits of engaging children in the arts: Performance: Children who participate in the arts from a young age consistently perform better and achieve more both during their years of arts participation as well as decades later than their non-arts participating peers.  An American study found that “74 percent of students in the lowincome group who had arts experiences by age 13 were more likely to plan to go to college.” 

They performed better on standardized tests and showed higher capabilities in both math-based subjects and languages. The benefits also extend out of the classroom as they are more likely to volunteer, read news sources, and vote.

Additionally, the arts instill a sense of pride and self-expression. When children’s voices are being heard and understood by classmates, parents, and society in general, they develop critical feelings of acceptance and self-worth.

Developmental benefit: Artistic creation can greatly improve a child’s fine and gross motor skills. Both making art or simply talking about art has shown to improve language and communication skills. Children who participate in the arts exhibit higher levels of concentration, have better decision-making skills, and are better able to find creative ways to solve problems and complete tasks.

Emotional intelligence: Music and arts break down emotional barriers. They allow us not only to feel deeply but to work towards understanding and processing our feelings. These are critical skills for children to develop because emotional understanding is a key component in healthy human relationships.

Self-esteem:Firstly there's, the simple correlation between better school performance due to the variety of benefits listed above and increased confidence in the classroom.


Cultural awareness: Children learn about the world and  are opened to culturally diverse friendships and understandings. The arts can teach children about societies and civilizations from all over the world, which in turn allows them to relate to and empathize with people from all walks of life. The arts let children form connections and build familiarity across cultural boundaries. They can also literally allow children to connect with people through joint expression or creation. Music, for example, can bring together musicians from totally different countries who speak none of the same languages and help them to transcend communication barriers by allowing them to create something beautiful through a universal language. The' Pied Piper' was so popular it was repeated for the public, and in 2018 a brand new production will be presented, again livestreamed, and later performed for the wider public. 



Mark Hadlow, ONZM, is driven by a passion for performance and has performed in over 150 theatre shows. He has made dozens of film appearances, several television series, commercials and radio voice-overs in the thousands. He's also directed many plays throughout New Zealand, some independent productions and for the Court Theatre in Christchurch and Fortune Theatre Dunedin. Opus Orchestra will be touring with Mark in July 2018 when they present 'Midwinter Tales', which will tour Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua. The concert is something a little different to the usual Opus offering, as the programme has been created by Music Director Peter Walls to be a special 'family friendly' concert.  It includes much loved 'Peter and the Wolf', Margaret Mahy's 'A Lion in the Meadow', and a new adaptation of 'Pulcinella' which will see this very traditional Italian comedy character transorted to New Zealand for his mischief making.  This has been written especially for Mark, and Opus, by David Groves. David Groves combined his position as Senior Lecturer in Italian at Victoria University with a strong involvement in drama. He acted at Wellington’s Downstage, Circa and Bats theatres, and worked closely with the University’s Drama Department.  He has run workshops in commedia dell’arte, and scripted and directed many student productions. He taught courses in Italian for singers at both Victoria and Massey Universities, and has collaborated with both early music groups and contemporary New Zealand composers. He has previously worked with Peter Walls on two highly acclaimed opera productions, as stage manager of Handel’s Imeneo, and as director of Puccini’s Suor Angelica. ''As an Italianist and an expert in the masks of the commedia dell'arte, it was initially natural for me to place Pulcinella in his natural habitat of Naples'' says David.  This time he will appear in the hinterlands of New Zealand. Playing the dwarf Dori in The Hobbit Trilogy, was Mark Hadlow's third Peter Jackson movie. In Meet the Feebles he voiced Heidi the Hippo and Robert the Hedgehog, and sang many of the songs. King Kong saw him rehearsing and performing the role of Harry in the vaudeville scenes opposite Naomi Watts. Mark has been nominated for and won several awards, including Best Supporting Actor in a Television Comedy Series for “Willy Nilly”, playing the role of the challenged brother Harry in the three-season, top-rating sitcom.  He won Best Theatrical Performance of the Year in 1993 for the hugely successful one-man show "SNAG", and ultimately went on to win Entertainer of the Year in 1995. He won Best Character Voice Over Artist in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards. His latest one man show "MAMIL" written by Greg Cooper opened in 2014 and has played to over 30,000 people throughout NZ.  Mark also released an audio CD called "Tall Tales" - classic children's stories with a Kiwi twist. He voiced the narration on the award winning Australian short film "The Story of Percival Pilts on Stills". He has been cast in a co-lead role in Stef Harris's latest film "Blue Moon" currently in pre-production and shooting in March 2018.  Mark was awarded the ONZM for services to Arts and entertainment in March 2017. Mark has a strong and distinct singing voice, MCing and appearing in many concerts and musicals.  Musical Theatre includes My Fair Lady, Mr Cinders, Jesus Christ SuperStar, Chicago, Kiss me Kate, Rocky Horror Show, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and now, 'Midwinter Tales' with Opus Orchestra. 



Broadly speaking, 'Orchestra' is really just a term for a group of musicians on instruments. It's also used as a word to describe any ensemble featuring a big line up of string instruments. But there's more... In classical music, the term “orchestra”, refers specifically to a group of musicians involving string, woodwind, brass, and percussion. But, “orchestra”,  as a term, actually has no bearing on specific ensemble size or genre. In the modern vernacular, there's two basic forms to an orchestra - 'Chamber orchestra' (quite small) and 'Symphony orchestra' (quite big!). Chamber orchestras tend to have fifty or fewer musicians (and they might be all string players). As the name suggests, they play “chamber music”—which is mainly music written for private minstel galleries, the parlours of aristocrats, and fancy palaces.  From the word 'chambre', it simply described where the music was to be performed - that is, a room rather than a concert hall. Although there is some chamber music still composed, the style peaked during the 17th and 18th centuries as bewigged and lead-laden maestros like Haydn, Mozart, and Vivaldi were taken Europe by storm.    At the other end of the scale, a symphony orchestra can have more than 100 players and these are divided into sections - strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion. As per their name, they play  “symphonies”— the sweeping pieces that can often have more than 20 different instruments. (Think of the stars of  1800's: Beethoven, Brahms, and the austere but grandious Wagner).

What makes one a philharmonic and another a symphony orchestra? And just what exactly is a chamber orchestra? If you’re not sure, don’t feel bad, even some musicians find it a bit baffling.

So how do you describe a string quartet, a brass trio or an Octet of other instruments? Are they 'orchestras' too? These are examples of specialised ensembles that, by virtue of their title, specify the blending of instrumental families. But there's a twist - a piano trio doesn't mean three pianos! Its an ensemble consisting of piano and two other instruments, usually a violin and a cello. So while you certainly could call them “orchestras”, they really live more broadly under the category of “chamber music” or “chamber ensembles”. And just to complicate matters, there's another meaning for the word Orchesta. It can also refer to a particular spot in a theatre where musicians perform on stage. This meaning comes from the Greek word ὀρχήστρα, which denotes the front part of a stage in ancient Greek theatres where Greek chorus’ would sing and dance. It's interesting to note that this is what is meant when a concert hall denotes main floor seating as “orchestra level seating”. As for the terms “philharmonic” and “symphony”, both actually simply mean “harmonious music” . And so they are used as namesakes to differentiate between orchestras. For example, the “Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra'', the Hamilton Youth Sinfonia, the Auckland Philharmonia are all “orchestras,”. But back in the days when the names were chosen, an orchestra would choose which word they might use - mainly to avoid being confused with each other. In and of themselves they are meaningless. And just when you thought it couldn't get more confusing, remember that a  “symphony” also refers to a special kind of orchestral composition. It's one that is structured in four movements, and includes one piece that is a sonata. Orchestras Central offers all of these experiences, a Chamber Orchestra, a symphony Orchestra, and an ensemble. Come and listen and see which you prefer!


More details and bookings: www.orchestras.org.nz


CONTACT US Upstairs @The Meteor, 1 Victoria St, Hamilton Ph. Â 07 949 9315 admin@orchestras.org.nz www.orchestras.org.nz


Profile for Orchestras Central

Counterpoint Magazine  

Issue 3 - April 2018

Counterpoint Magazine  

Issue 3 - April 2018

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