Concerts, News

Grieg Trio – First Performance!

Hello readers!

After a lot of rehearsing, we had our first performance of the Grieg Piano Trio!

It went rather well; and was such fun! The pianist sneezed mid-way through the first page of the piece, causing the violinist and me to giggle – quite a lot!

Although we all had our bought of little mistakes, it really helped us find out what parts to focus on for Friday’s rehearsal (with a new, well-known tutor!)

For the strings: sustaining the sound through the whole note, looking and chords/double-stops

For me: Solos – ensuring that I have all of the bowing and fingering sorted! Also, expression and the feel of the first page…

– Phoebe P


APO, St Matthew’s and APO

Oh! I have this late! So much so that I have far to many concerts to even begin to think about to cover – all in the past week!

I have gone to three public orchestral concerts this week:

Firstly, the concert with soloist Stefan Dohr (principle horn player in the Berlin Philharmonic) with the APO. It was superb! They performed Strauss’ first horn concerto, which was written for his Father in 1882/’83. The encore was Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars, which really was fantastic as it showcased his experience and talent brilliantly – being a contemporary piece for solo horn and having little (or no) set tempo with lots of rests! People initially didn’t quite know what to make of it, resulting in an opulent amount of tittering amongst the crowds… an interesting reaction to music.

The APO’s Beethoven (as the overture) was, in my opinion, even nicer than the body of the concert; probably as a result of my upbringing and favoured, more comfortable music. There was also the gorgeous Second Symphony by  Rachmaninov after interval, of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Now, to the second concert: St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra. I only stayed for the first half (I had a concert of my own to attend afterwards, as you can read in my next post!) though I found it interesting how there was such an obvious leap from NZSO/APO to St Matthew’s – and how this affected even the feel of the music! St Matthew’s first piece, a collection of dances, was something to learn from, I suppose… however, one of the APO’s bassoonists, Ben Hoadly, played a few gorgeous concerti by Weber; of which was much more enjoyable.

The third concert I listened to was with school: an APO discovery concert. It was rather nice, though they stayed around the Romantic/ 20th Century in the choice of music which, for a discovery concert, was a little frustrating! Admittedly, they did begin with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue on the organ, but that’s scarcely far back enough, let alone in depth enough! Never mind.

– Phoebe P

Concerts, News

Two Recitals and a Competition

Hello Readers!

I do apologise, I left this a bit late… however, here it is: an account of the week.

The first recital was a learning curve. Yes – I do suppose you know what those italics mean. I had nerves, so decided to ensure that I really was familiar with the piano part. I listened and played along with the CD. Now, at the time, this seemed like a rather sensible thing to do, yet the recording is unfathomably fast for the character and style of Latin For Alex…

I was on stage. Joy, the pianist, began to play. I stopped her. It was the tempo we had agreed on in the previous rehearsal, yet still so much slower than in the recording I had been listening to the previous hour. It unnerved me. I adjusted the speed. And. We. Were. Off! As fast as I could go! A stunning performance, technique-wise, yet a drab, unfeeling performance expressive-wise. I am very glad to say that my uninformed and mislead ideas regarding the tempo were doctored later that evening – with yet another rehearsal.

These were paid off the next night at the second recital (a surprise invitation from my old cello teacher – so kind). “She played like an angel!” She sighed to my father… yet not like an angel enough, according to Mr. Adjudicator the next day; but now I’m getting ahead of myself!

To follow on from the previous, evidently rather put-out last statement: despite my great leap in playing and musical high I was on the previous evening, the results of the competition did not reflect my own opinions and evaluation of my playing that day, nor did it mirror my parents’ ideas. I personally felt that the adjudicator’s (a concert pianist) speech contradicted a few the top three performers in each age group of the string category… yet that is just me, and half of my mind is telling me that this is no way to speak. So, I have spent the past few evenings emotionally trialed and have only recently spoken the conclusion that was, actually, in my head all along: not everyone totally agrees with the judge, for we all have different opinions; different marking criteria. Pooh. Harrumph. At least I got something… and a relatively good mark. Pah.

Well, that was an obsessively chatty entry… shall write again anon.

– Phoebe P

Concerts, News

First Cello Recital of the Year

Hello readers!

Tomorrow, I shall be playing in a cello recital. Just a small one, with a group of other young cellists who, like me, shall be performing in the South Auckland Competitions sometime this week (I’m playing on the 20th – shall keep you updated!).

As the concert is for performance practice in preparation for the competition, we’ll be playing the same piece that we shall be performing for the adjudicators later on. In my case, Latin For Alex (also known as Alexander’s Latin) by Walter Haberl; a snazzy piece, one with a vast amount of character! I’ll be playing it by memory… something of which I was initially apprehensive to do as the piece is full of little alterations and variations in the main, reoccurring theme. I was fretting that I’d learn it incorrectly if I were not to look at the music! Much to my great surprise and favour, I picked up on every single little tiny mistake I made and fixed it the first few times I practiced it by memory! This really delighted me.

In the recital tomorrow, I’ll be playing with the same pianist who has helped and accompanied me these past, perhaps, two years. She is a marvelous musician (and person) and, although I have only had one half-hour rehearsal with her, I feel well prepared. As my piece, Latin For Alex, is in list C of the Grade 7 ABRSM syllabus, I have been using the piano accompaniment from the CD in my practice. This has been an immense help as it meant that I didn’t need to dally about, learning how my part fitted with the piano, but spent my half-hour effectively, by “getting into the groove” of the music.

I shall keep you all posted!

– Phoebe P


NZSO – Elgar and Strauss

Last night, I accompanied my mother back to the town hall where, after a superb meal in Elliot Stables (a must for all!), we went to the NZSO.

The programme began with Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave); most certainly a well known, well loved piece and composer. The orchestra was superb. Everything that I have been taught over my years was demonstrated faultlessly: from melding the sound to particular techniques for the cello regarding the placement, speed and pressure of the bow.  For me, this was a wonderful confirmation and has assured me further in my playing.

We then had Elgar’s Sea Pictures, a series of poems that he put to music, with a mezzo-soprano solo. These aren’t commonly known and are often disregard, perhaps because they were composed between his Enigma Variations and The Dream if Gerontius, but more so because many say they are absent of a particular, refined care or rigour. I found it evident that the orchestra’s favourite of the five pieces was In Haven. Everyone was smiling, and though discrete, it seemed to resemble how I feel when I have a piece of music, or a book, of which I have great intimacy with! The poem, or lyrics as Elgar made them, were composed by Elgar’s wife, Caroline; I suppose this also helped make the piece a favourite of the members – simply because it’s a very sweet token of love… then again, “between his Enigma Variations and The Dream if Gerontius”  who knows what intentions there were behind it? (Yes, I am referring to the initials that title each movement of the variations).

Lastly, after a shared orange juice over the interval, were Strauss’ twenty-two continuous movements that make up his Eine Alpensinfonie (or An Alpine Symphony). I found these very modern – certainly no familiar homophonic passages in this! Completed in 1915, just at the beginning of the Great War, it is easy to find certain parts and ideas of which would have been shaped quite significantly by what was going on around him.  The piece calls for an orchestra of at least 140 musicians and a particularly lavish percussion section. It was terribly exciting and demanding.

Overall, a glorious night, full of discovery.

-Phoebe P



A few days ago, I went to the Auckland town hall to see L’Apeggiata as part of the Auckland Arts Festival 2017. L’Apeggiata is a Baroque chamber group, with lots of improvisation and melding of Baroque music with other periods and styles, most commonly Jazz.

It was quite an exciting night. I recognised perhaps 60% of the pieces they performed (Baroque is the period of music I listen to most frequently) though I found it difficult to come to terms with the modernisation as I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to music. I adored the Cornetto and wished to hear more of the violin! It really was a concert to entertain.

-Phoebe P


First Mendelssohn Trio Rehearsal

Oh! How exciting! I have been waiting with great anticipation and excitement for this trio practice! And it was fun!

Already I have noticed that there is such a contrast between the two piano trios that I am playing with. With the Mendelssohn,  the tempo is presently everywhere and, as the music is still quite new to us, there are passages that seem to loose the sense of direction, of the beat. Our strengths and weaknesses are so different in the Dumky Trio, though it is all so new I can scarcely pin-point specifics. I promise to keep you all updated.

-Phoebe P