Orches­tra gets to act in fest


The play­ers in the New Zealand Sym­phony Orches­tra will em­brace their in­ner ac­tor in a new col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Cap­i­tal E Na­tional The­atre for Chil­dren.

Witi Ihi­maera’s novel Sky Dancer is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the sym­phonic work of the same name. It is part of this year’s Cap­i­tal E Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val. The story fol­lows the jour­ney of Sky­lark, a young girl who be­comes em­broiled in a prophecy.

She em­barks on a trip into the past to save the fu­ture of New Zealand’s ear­li­est in­hab­i­tants – the birds.

The orches­tra will take cen­tre stage and be­come part of the per­for­mance.

Con­duc­tor Grant Cooper said the set-up of the orches­tra was un­usual.

‘‘There is a ring of space around the con­duc­tor’s podium and the orches­tra is split so the ac­tors can move in and around the orches­tra,’’ he said. ‘‘Also the play­ers will do cer­tain the­atri­cal el­e­ments. ‘‘It could be the way they play their in­stru­ments, show­ing cer­tain mo­tions in a more vis­i­ble way to por­tray waves or wind blow­ing.

‘‘There are also parts where the orches­tra rep­re­sents birds in bat­tle by flut­ter­ing pieces of pa­per above our heads.’’

The con­duc­tor’s score book is also in­te­grated into the per­for­mance.

‘‘The idea is that the book de­scrib­ing the story is the same as the book the orches­tra is play­ing from,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘When I present the pages of the score to Sky­lark, she is able to use it as a heal­ing agent.

‘‘It’s an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful metaphor for me as a mu­si­cian that mu­sic is able to heal and to bring peo­ple to­gether.’’

The orches­tra and Cap­i­tal E Na­tional The­atre for Chil­dren per­form­ers will also use pup­petry and multi-me­dia dis­plays to bring the story to life for the young au­di­ence.

Com­posed by Gareth Farr, Sky Dancer is be­ing billed as the per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to clas­si­cal mu­sic for young ears.

Sky Dancer: Welling­ton Town Hall, Fri­day March 15, 6pm. Cap­i­tal E Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val: March 11 till 23, www.cap­i­tale.org.nz for in­for­ma­tion.

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