Quartet brings humanity, life

Every two years, patrons in Wanaka coffee shops stop complaining about too many tourists, rental car drivers, housing costs, unwanted pests, airports and hotels, lake snow and water quality, the QLDC, QAC, ORC and CGT - and start celebrating culture instead.

So kudos to the Festival of Colour for reminding us that Wanaka also punches well above its weight with one of New Zealand's finest arts events.

Opening shows for the eighth festival reflected Wanaka's split personality, with sublime baroque classics and, er, complaints about water quality.

Jordi Savall's quartet brought humanity and life to its packed programme of early 17th century music.

Savall's mastery of seven-string bass viol was mirrored by Lorenz Duftschmid, also on seven-string viol, and matched by Xavier Diaz-Latorre on theorbo and baroque guitar and Michael Behringer on harpsichord.

Fast finger-work was hugely impressive, especially in the occasional Spanish pieces, but it was the emotional quality of several of the slower French compositions that really connected. Exquisite complexity, layering and structure transported us in time to historical French courts full of charm and joie de vivre.

To have musicians of this calibre playing the last concert of their world tour in Wanaka is a real coup - a joyous and evocative treat and a delight to witness as well as hear.

From the sublime to the reticulated, Wai Water Wanaka flows from conversations about water quality initiated at the Ashburton Art Gallery.

Ross Hemera's installation Hue Wai features five of the South Island's major rivers, Campbell Burns provides interactive light relief with Water Table, Bruce Foster impresses with a beautiful perspective in Confluence, and Bing Dawe and Euan Macleod among others continue to make powerful statements with finely crafted works.

Thought-provoking and spiritual, Wai Water Wanaka runs all week.

 - Nigel Zega

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