Chairman’s Newsletter – June 2016

It gives me great pleasure to invite you to attend the upcoming free concerts being presented by AYO.

The Programme:
      PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kijé                                                   
      IBERT Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone       
      MUSSORGSKY / RAVEL Pictures at an Exhibition
CONDUCTOR       Antun Poljanich
SOLOIST              Mojca Pecman, Alto Saxophone

When and Where:
      Sat     2 July   4pm  Pukekohe Town Hall*
      Sat   16 July   4pm  Massey High School**
      Sat   23 July   7pm  Orewa Arts & Events Centre
      Sun  24 July   2pm  Auckland Town Hall

  * Items from Pukekohe High School Concert Band will replace the Prokofiev
** The Massey concert is a fundraiser for the school – tickets will be sold at the door

Mojca Pecman, Soloist

AYO is delighted to present a young saxophone soloist from Europe, Mojca Pecman (pronounced Moytsa Petsman). Mojca has been playing the saxophone since the age of ten. She was born in Slovenia where she began her saxophone studies at the Conservatory of Music and Ballet in Ljubljana, and went on to continue her studies in Vienna at the University of Music and Performing Arts.  As the leader of the Sonas Saxophone Quartet she has performed in many prestigious European venues, and won first prize in several international competitions. She is appearing at the special invitation of the AYO in Ibert’s sparkling Saxophone Concertina da Camera.

This is a rare opportunity to hear the saxophone as a concerto soloist, and Ibert exploits every aspect of the instrument in a brilliant and witty display of virtuoso pyrotechnics and lyrical elegance.

This programme features the second of our three wind soloists this season, following the stunning performance of Spohr’s first clarinet concerto by ex-AYO principal, Kenny Keppel, in our first programme.

Coming up in this programme…
The saxophone also features prominently in Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite, which opens this second programme. This immensely popular work was originally written in 1933 as background music for a film of the same name, about a fictitious officer created by officials as a means of deflecting the wrath of the Czar. Of course, having been created he could not be uncreated, and his whole career unfolds including promotion to General, death and disgrace without the Czar ever knowing the truth. It is possibly the first example of a film score being adapted for the concert hall.

The other work in the programme is Pictures from an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.Originally written for piano, it was later orchestrated by Ravel. It is one of the most brilliant showpieces in the orchestral repertoire, displaying the different sections of the orchestra, brass, strings, woodwind, (including saxophone), and percussion, in the most inventive and striking manner. It is also full of wonderful solos for the principal players. Extracts are often chosen at auditions to test applicants for professional positions in an orchestra. Amazingly, Ravel hardly alters a note from the original piano score, and yet creates an astonishing wealth of colour and effect which perfectly enhances the character of each “picture.” The combination of Mussorgsky’s creative originality and Ravel’s meticulous craftsmanship is one of the few examples of a masterpiece written by two people. It also raises an interesting question of the conflict that can arise between creative genius and an academic establishment. Ravel was expelled from the Paris Conservatoire twice, being judged to have failed to maintain an adequate level of achievement. He also competed and was rejected four times for the prestigious Prix de Rome, the last time when he was already an established and recognised composer. This created a scandal which led eventually to the resignation of the director of the Conservatoire. Mussorgsky was a self- taught amateur composer, whose work was regarded by his more professionally trained colleagues as in need of polishing and revision before it could be taken seriously. He is now recognized as having written the greatest of all Russian operas, Boris Godunov, which is now performed in its original form, the so called improvements, in retrospect, now seen to have been mistaken. Similarly the improvements made by Rimsky-Korsakov to the original version of Pictures From an Exhibition have also now been rejected.

See you there…
It will be an exciting experience to hear the AYO play this wonderful and challenging work. Of course with Antun Poljanich in charge they will have the benefit of working with a conductor whose understanding of the Russian repertoire is unequalled in New Zealand. Definitely a concert not to be missed!

Looking back to our April Concerts…
Full houses and a standing ovation were the result of extending our policy of free entry to concerts on AYO’s April tour to the north.  It shows that there is a large and enthusiastic audience for classical orchestral music in the regions, but that for various reasons people are reluctant to pay for tickets for something that they either feel uncertain about, or simply cannot afford.  As we believe it is of the utmost importance that we continue to bring the joy of experiencing a symphony orchestra playing the world’s finest music, to the widest audience we can, and that it is equally important for the orchestra itself to play to full houses, we are committed to continuing with this policy which has proved to be so successful.

Paul Serotsky, in his perceptive and enthusiastic review of the Whangarei concert for the Northern Advocate (, heartily endorsed our policy, writing that “It demolishes financial barriers, making live symphonic music available to everyone.”  It is noticeable that there are many more young people and families at the AYO concerts than are generally seen at symphony concerts. I think therefore that we can fairly claim that not only are we helping to develop the musicians of the future, but that we are also helping create an audience of the future for symphonic music.

Putting on concerts is however a very expensive business. Transporting players with their instruments and equipment around the country, together with hall hire and accommodation comes to about $15,000 per concert series. In Auckland it now costs $5000 to hire the Town Hall and we also have costs of hiring rehearsal venues and storage space. These costs all have to be covered by the donations which we receive from various sources and by the fees paid by the musicians themselves as members of the orchestra.

Become a Supporter
Behind the scenes are the Members of the Society of the Auckland Youth Orchestra Inc., the legal entity which supports the orchestra, and which elects the Executive Committee of the AYO at the AGM each year. Members of the Society pay a donation of $25 a year and their support is essential to the very existence of AYO. We have decided that in future their names should be printed in the programmes as an acknowledgement of their much-appreciated contribution. In addition, we have created a body of Supporters whose donations will effectively replace ticket sales.  For further information, email Annette Sachtleben, AYO Supporter Liaison

Entry to concerts will continue to be free, but Supporters will be able to request their seats in advance, and these will be set aside in the best areas of the house. They will therefore be able to have a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience, meeting up with friends or having a drink before the concert, knowing that good seats are held for them. The names of supporters will also be acknowledged in the programmes to show our appreciation.

We believe that many of you will want to support AYO by becoming Supporters, and I encourage you to do this.  This will establish a solid base, enabling us to continue to present our most talented young musicians to the widest possible audience, and preserving our classical heritage for future generations. Some of you who wish to support the running of the organisation may wish to become Members of the Society as well, which you can of course join at any time.

Alexander Cowdell

For Your Diary…
Auckland Town Hall concert for next programme – Sat. 8 October 2016, 7.30pm