Japan trip rings orchestra's bells

Big-noting their upcoming tour to Japan in the Octagon yesterday are Southern Sinfonia players ...
Big-noting their upcoming tour to Japan in the Octagon yesterday are Southern Sinfonia players (from left) Elisha Watson (violin), Rowena Bell (cor anglais), Cally McWha (violin), Hanna Cone (viola), Lloyd Williams (double bass), Nick Cornish (oboe)...

The Southern Sinfonia will be practising chopsticks before its next big concert.

The 52-strong orchestra has been invited to perform at the Asia Orchestra Festival in Japan next month.

The sinfonia is only the third New Zealand orchestra to be invited; following the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in 2011.

The invitation requested the sinfonia include a composition by Dunedin composer Anthony Ritchie in its programme, which will feature Remember Parihaka (Ritchie), Piano Concerto (Grieg) and Symphony No 2 (Brahms).

The Japanese Government and Association of Japanese Symphony Orchestras are paying travel and accommodation costs for the 52 orchestra members, conductor Simon Over, composer Anthony Ritchie, Auckland pianist Stephen de Pledge and three sinfonia staff.

''It's huge. It's costing an absolute packet,'' sinfonia manager Philippa Harris said yesterday.

''I've never seen the players so excited before. We've never been out of the South Island before, so they're beside themselves with excitement.''

The invitation was both a compliment and an investment, sinfonia board president Stephen Christensen said yesterday.

''To be invited to tour is a recognition of just how good our orchestra is. It will pay enormous dividends in terms of long-term artistic benefit, and this will be appreciated by our audiences back home for years to come.''

The sinfonia will hold a fundraising concert in the Dunedin Town Hall at 7.30pm on October 2.

It will leave for Japan the following day and perform in the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall on October 6 and Morioka Civic Cultural Hall on October 8, before returning to Dunedin on October 10.

nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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