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NZSO To Appear At Olympic Cultural Festival in Beijing

Tuesday 8 July 2008

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has been invited to perform at the Olympic Cultural Festival in Beijing as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The NZSO will give two concerts in Beijing – the first in the beautiful Forbidden City Concert Hall, on 27 August, and the second in the new National Centre for the Performing Arts, on 28 August.

Diana Fenwick QSO, Chair of the NZSO, says:

“The fact that the Beijing Ministry of Culture has scheduled one of our concerts in the National Centre for the Performing Arts (a prestigious venue that has been attracting worldwide attention since its opening earlier this year), and the other in the historic Forbidden City Concert Hall, is a firm indication that this tour is regarded as an important marker of the strong relationship between China and New Zealand cemented earlier this year in the signing of the Free Trade Agreement.”

Additional fundraising has been required to underwrite the orchestra's China tour. Ms Fenwick says the tour has been made possible as a result of the generous support of Mr Shen Zhaowu (principal sponsor), Solid Energy New Zealand (associate sponsor), and the China division of the ANZ Bank.  "Because of distance and the high cost of transporting such a large number of people, in its long history the NZSO has only rarely been able to accept prestigious invitations to tour overseas.  International exposure is vitally important in maintaining the orchestra's reputation and we are very pleased with the support we have from our sponsors," she says.

The NZSO’s programme for the Festival will provide an extraordinary showcase for New Zealand talent:

John Psathas’ Olympic Music, which will be world-premiered in Beijing, is a suite based on the music that he composed for the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics. Gareth Farr’s Te Papa (which incorporates a Māori Karanga) brings a Te Reo element into the programme, and features Deborah Wai-Kapohe as soprano soloist, and our own Simon O’Neill - Ashburton-born tenor now performing major roles in the world’s greatest opera houses.

The Orchestra’s other soloist has been chosen to celebrate the relationship between China and New Zealand. Li Wei, one of the most successful cellists to come out of the Peoples’ Republic of China in recent years, will perform at the Forbidden City Concert Hall.

The concerts will be conducted by the NZSO’s highly-acclaimed Music Director, Pietari Inkinen, who has included Sibelius’ Symphony No 2 in the repertoire.

NZSO Chief Executive, Peter Walls, says:

“We are all thrilled about this opportunity. Beijing has hosted other great orchestras this year and the Chinese are used to hearing the very best in classical music. I am immensely grateful to our sponsors – Mr Shen Zhaowu (through his Contue Jinwan Enterprise Group), Solid Energy, and the ANZ Bank in China”.



CONDUCTOR: Pietari Inkinen (NZSO Music Director)


Simon O’Neill (tenor)

Haley Maxwell (Māori Karanga)

Deborah Wai-Kapohe (soprano)

Li Wei (cello)



27 August 2008

PSATHAS Olympic Music (from Athens Olympics 2004)

ELGAR Cello Concerto (with Li Wei)

SIBELIUS Symphony No 2


28 August 2008

FARR Te Papa

VERDI “Lunge da lei per me”, from La Traviata

TCHAIKOVSKY “Lensky’s Aria”, from Eugene Onegin

WAGNER “In Fernem Land” from Lohengrin