BBC Young Musician

NZSONationalYouthOrchestra.LaraMelda6_CreditBenjaminHarte_PRESS-1Lara joins National Youth Orchestra for NZ debut

By Alan  Tristram

2010 BBC Young Musician, Lara Melda, teams up with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra for her New Zealand debut, performing Beethoven’s popular Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor.

The 2013 NZSO National Youth Orchestra has just been announced — and 76 of New Zealand’s finest young musicians are gearing up for an exciting concert with Lara, who is considered t o be one of Britain’s most promising stars.

Won BBC contest at age of 16

At the age of 16, the young Londoner won the famous BBC competition, performing Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2 with conductor Vasily Petrenko (who led the acclaimed 2011 NZSO Leningrad tour) and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

This time, she’ll work with esteemed Australian conductor and music education advocate, Richard Gill. Gill is renowned for his passionate views on music education and was recently quoted in Limelight magazine to say:

Music education does not just make children more musical; it unleashes their creative powers.

He last conducted the NZSO National Youth Orchestra in 2009 when the Orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary at a national music camp in Napier. This time, the Orchestra will rehearse at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre in the lead-up to the August concerts.

Gill will take the young Orchestra through its paces to present a challenging programme including Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, and the world premiere of young Kiwi composer Sam Logan’s exciting new work Zhu Rong Fury!

Sam Logan is young composer-in-residence

Sam Logan is the 2013 NZSO National Youth Orchestra Composer-in-Residence. His new work Zhu Rong Fury! is a ‘soundtrack’ to the idea of the deity Zhu Rong.

“As an intrepid Wikipedia-explorer, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself learning about some ancient and obscure polytheistic deity, like Zhu Rong, god of fire,” says Sam.

“The orchestral ensemble lends itself particularly well to wielding some godlike volume and power so I composed Zhu Rong Fury! as a ‘soundtrack’ to the idea of this Bronze-Age Chinese deity Zhu Rong, a god of fire and of the south.”

Sam worked closely with Larry Reese, NZSO Section Principal Timpani, and Lenny Sakofsky, NZSO Section Principal Percussion, to finalise the percussion parts, making sure that every part was possible to play. New Zealand composer Gareth Farr was his mentor.

“I’ve tried my best to spread the action around the Orchestra, so hopefully everyone can find something to get stuck into,” he says. “My piece couldn’t have been programmed alongside any bigger classical orchestral heavyweights (Tchaikovsky and Beethoven), which is quite daunting, but the calibre of the players is outstanding so I’m certain my piece will produce the best performance any young composer could ask for.”

‘Most difficult to play’

NZSO Concertmaster Arna Morton admits that Sam’s work is the most difficult to play, without discounting the inherent demands of performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

“Sometimes young people underestimate Beethoven’s difficulty; I should know as I am playing his Ninth Symphony this month and that is no walk in the park! Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 is also an incredibly challenging work to play, but somehow it feels more natural to me.”

The 2013 NZSO National Youth Orchestra includes a diverse group of musicians who auditioned for their spot eardifficult to playlier this year. A total of 176 musicians from all around New Zealand applied for a position in the Orchestra, which celebrates its 54th year in 2013. This year, 32% of this Orchestra hail from Auckland.