Young sax tal­ent plays big gig

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JOE DAWSON

Ris­ing jazz player Ben Lerner is set to play his big­gest con­cert yet.

The young sax­o­phone player, 12, will be the fea­tured soloist at this year’s New Zealand Pops spring con­cert next week­end where he will per­form with the backing of a pro­fes­sional or­ches­tra.

Held at the Auck­land Town Hall it will be a big gig for a young lad.

But while the young player says he will no doubt be ner­vous come the big day, he is also de­ter­mined to make the most of the op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘Last year I was in­vited to play with the North Har­bour swing band and I play with a lot of bands and the or­ches­tra at school.

‘‘So I have some ex­pe­ri­ence but not in a proper pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘I’m a bit ner­vous. I’m not sure how well I’m go­ing to play.

‘‘Hope­fully I play well. There will be so many peo­ple in the au­di­ence.’’

Ben will per­form two num­bers on the night – The Eagles clas­sic Des­per­ado and the Th­elo­nious Monk tune Well You Needn’t.

While he has only played the sax for four years Ben says the in­stru­ment has be­come a part of his life.

‘‘I started at the end of year three and I was so small noone wanted to teach me. Peo­ple thought I was too young.’’

De­ter­mined to start learn­ing he per­se­vered un­til Edwin Ran­dall, a mu­sic teacher at Saint Kentigern School where Ben is a stu­dent, agreed to take him on.

‘‘I just re­ally like the in­stru­ment, ever since I was lit­tle I have re­ally liked the sax.

‘‘It’s part of my life def­i­nitely. You can be so free on it, you can do what­ever you want – there are no bound­aries.’’

The New Zealand Pops or­ches­tra was founded last year with the aim of giv­ing young mu­si­cians the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with a pro- fes­sional out­fit and to at­tract a wider au­di­ence to or­ches­tral mu­sic. It plays a fu­sion of light clas­si­cal and pop­u­lar mu­sic and puts the spot­light on an up and com­ing star.

Founder and con­duc­tor Rita Paczian says for any­one who dreams of a ca­reer in the mu­sic in­dus­try ac­tu­ally get­ting close to an or­ches­tra can seem unattain­able.

‘‘But New Zealand Pops was es­tab­lished in April 2012 to not only make ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the or­ches­tral treat­ment of a va­ri­ety of mu­sic more ac­ces­si­ble to a wider au­di­ence, but to also en­able younger per­form­ers to work with sea­soned mu­si­cians and singers and learn from them.’’

Other per­form­ers for the con­cert in­clude mu­si­cal group VOXPOP and the New Zealand Pops Youth Choir.

‘‘For Ben Lerner and all the young singers who take the stage in front of hun­dreds of peo­ple the ex­po­sure to the real world of mu­sic will give them a taste of what a pro­fes­sional per­for­mance is like,’’ Ms Paczian says.

‘‘It is re­ally thrilling. It is what mo­ti­vates all those in­volved in the New Zealand Pops Or­ches­tra.’’

The NZ Pops con­cert Spring Pops will be at the Auck­land Town Hall, 5pm on Septem­ber 15.

Photo: JOE DAWSON

No bound­aries: Ben Lerner en­joys the free­dom of the sax­o­phone.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see Ben Lerner per­form.

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