Guest Lectures at the Juilliard

Peter has been invited to present three lectures in the Historical Performance Programme at the Juilliard School of Music and Drama in New York on 10-12 December. His classes will align with a focus this semester on performance practice relating to the Italian Baroque.

Bach Christmas Oratorio: first the talk, then the music

Peter is presenting an hour-long introduction to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on Radio New Zealand Concert before conducting the work with Wellington’s Bach Choir and the Chiesa Ensemble on 15 December in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hill St, Wellington at 3.30 pm..

The radio programme will be broadcast on 12 December at 7 pm and thereafter available as a podcast from Radio New Zealand Concert.

Soloists in the Christmas Oratorio are Nicola Edgecombe, Megan Hurnard, Oliver Sewell and Kieran Rayner. The Chiesa Ensemble is led by Rebecca Struthers. The performance features cantatas 1 (“Jauchzet, frohlocket”), 2 (“Und es waren Hirten”), 4 (“Fallt mit Danken”) and 6 (“Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben”). Peter says that he is greatly looking forward to the performance. “I am grateful that the Bach Choir and Chiesa Ensemble were prepared to go for what, instrumentally speaking, is quite an extravagant selection from the six possible cantatas. While we begin and end in a blaze of trumpets and timpani, the pastoral colours of cantata two (with its oboes d’amore and oboes da caccia) and the regal refinement of cantata 4 with its pair of horns) are both very special.”

2013 Concert Highlights

Choral master works feature strongly in Peter’s concerts for 2013. On 15 June, he will conduct a programme of double-choir music with Nota Bene, a polished and versatile chamber choir founded in 2004 by its Music Director, Christine Argyle. This will be Peter’s third outing with Nota Bene.

Also in June, Peter will be conducting Haydn’s masterpiece The Creation with the Hamilton Civic Choir and Opus Orchestra. And, on 15 December, he will conduct Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Wellington Bach Choir and the Chiesa Ensemble (the same combination as for the much-praised performance of Israel in Egypt in 2008). Peter comments, “I am thrilled to have these two great works on the agenda this year – and I’m also looking forward to working again with Nota Bene on a rich and varied programme.”

Peter’s long involvement in historical performance comes strongly into play on 4 August, when he will conduct a concert in Auckland with NZ Barok – this country’s premier period-instrument orchestra – with Erin Helyard (harpsichord and fortepiano) as soloist.

As Music Director of Opus Orchestra, Peter will continue to present concerts in Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua beginning with a series in March that combines the Eroica Symphony with the first performance in modern times of the Concerto for Double Bass by Beethoven’s Viennese contemporary Johann Sperger (with Darija Anjelik-Androkovich as soloist).


Leadership Development Seminar for the HR Institute of New Zealand

On 6 November, Peter will be one of three presenters at a seminar on leadership development hosted by the Wellington Branch of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand. The seminar is at 12.15 pm on Tuesday 6 November at the National Office of the HR Insitute (Level 1, 11 Chews Lane, Wellington). For more information see “Leadership Development on a Shoestring”

Victoria University Council Election

It was announced today that Peter Walls and Rosemary Barrington have been elected by the Court of Convocation (the community of graduates) to the Council of Victoria University of Wellington. Rosemary has been a member of Council since 1999 and is a former Chancellor of the University. This will be Peter’s first term on Council. He comments, “I welcome this opportunity to assist Victoria in maintaining the highest standards of tertiary education. I would like to thank very warmly all of those who supported me in this election.”

Close Encounters with the NZSO

Peter will conduct two performances with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on 9 October in Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre. The concert, made up of six relatively short pieces, will include Mozart’s Il Seraglio Overture, the Ball movement from Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique and the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Peter will introduce each of the works (with illustrations from the orchestra) – a formula that proved immensely popular with audiences in 2011. Peter comments: “This is a playlist programme – six absolutely wonderful pieces of music that should excite newcomers to symphonic concerts as well as those who already know that experiencing the Liebestod live is an experience not to be missed.” All the pieces to be performed are drawn from the NZSO’s 2013 season. The concerts are at 12.30  pm and 6.30 pm. They are free but ticketed. (Tickets are available from Ticketek.)

Candidate for the Victoria University Council

Peter has been nominated as a Court of Convocation candidate for the Victoria University Council. His official statement, accompanying the nomination, reads:

I taught at Victoria (first in the English Department and then for 24 years in the School of Music). I have been chairing the Tertiary Education Commission’s Creative and Performing Arts panel in the PBRF exercise since its inception, and was a member of the equivalent panel in the UK’s Research Assessment Exercise (2008). As Chief Executive of the NZSO for nearly a decade I worked productively with other arts organizations, with government and with the business community. A member of the NZ Institute of Directors, my governance experience includes the NZSO itself (Deputy Chair, 1996-2002) and the Health Sponsorship Council (2008-2012).

The University has a unique role in pursuing learning and research without regard to immediate employment outcomes or social applicability. I would defend this traditional role. I also want to encourage, where relevant, a strongly focused relationship between higher education and the professions. Victoria must continue to foster a research culture and produce graduates who are well-grounded in their chosen disciplines, with the mental flexibility that facilitates vocational choice. For this the University needs to preserve academic leadership.

Peter has strong ties with Victoria. He and his wife Kathryn were students there in the late 1960s. (Kathryn is now a Professor of English Literature at Victoria.) Both their daughters, Helen and Alison, are Victoria Graduates. Peter cares deeply about tertiary education in New Zealand and, in particular, the reputation and performance of his alma mater. He writes: “My student years at Victoria were transformative. My horizons were widened and I was given a thorough intellectual grounding that prepared me first for postgraduate study abroad and then for what has turned out to be a richly varied career. I would like to do all I can to ensure that students today gain similar stimulation and are given a substantial preparation for a future that will be personally rewarding and that will contribute to the welfare of New Zealand society.”

An election will be held on line or by postal ballot concluding at 5 pm on 25 October. All Victoria graduates are eligible to vote in the election. The VUW website describes the process as follows:

To be eligible to make nominations and vote in the election, you must be actively enrolled on the Court of Convocation Register. Graduates of Victoria are automatically enrolled, but if you have not voted since 2004 you must re-register [before 5 pm on 27 September] by calling Alumni Relations on (04) 463 9665 or by email Voting will be conducted primarily online. Please ensure you have provided us with a valid email address, or notify us if you prefer to receive voting material in the post. 


“Connections” with Opus

Next up for Opus Orchestra is their “Connections” tour celebrating their partnership with the Waikato University Music programme. The concerts will feature the winner of the University’s annual concerto competition, Andrew Leathwick, who will perform Prokofiev’s brilliant (and at times luxuriant) Third Piano Concerto. Andrew began studying piano under Katherine Austin at the Waikato Conservatorium of Music in 2010. In 2011, he was a semi-finalist in the Lev Vlassenko Australasian Piano Competition in Brisbane.

The programme opens with Mozart’s bravura Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio which, in mood at least, is something of a contrast to Schubert’s dramatic Symphony No. 4 in C minor “The Tragic”, the main work in the second half of the concert. The Schubert is preceded by Takemitsu’s short but intensely moving “Requiem”. Peter says, “I was alerted to the beauty of this extraordinary piece by Hiroshi Ikematsu (the NZSO’s brilliant Principal Double Bass) who asked me to conduct it in a benefit concert he organized for the victims of the Fukishima earthquake. Ever since, I have wanted to programme it with Opus.”

 The concerts are in the Gallagher Academy at Waikato University on 22 September (8 pm), the Graham Young Youth Theatre in Tauranga on 23 September (7.30 pm), and the Civic Theatre, Rotorua, on 24 September (3 pm).

Minister for the Arts, Culture & Heritage congratulates Opus

Commenting on the discussion paper released by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage yesterday on the future of orchestras in New Zealand, the Hon Christopher Finlayson, Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage, noted the contribution that Opus Orchestra is making to the professional orchestra sector:

The Minister also congratulated the Opus Orchestra on its outstanding 21st anniversary concert, which he attended in Hamilton on Friday. This is an orchestra which is making great strides in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty area. 

For the Minister’s full statement see

Beethoven with Opus Orchestra

Opus Orchestra had full houses in Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua for its 21st Anniversary Concerts. The programme included a new commission from Andrew Buchanan-Smart, who founded the Orchestra in 1991. The rest was Beethoven: the “Emperor” Concerto with Diedre Irons and the Fifth Symphony. Reviews have been enthusiastic:

Conductor Peter Walls captured the architectural essence of the piece but infused each movement with its own character, from fate knocking at the door of the first movement, the beautiful lyricism coupled with military heroism of the second, the sneaky playfulness of the scherzo and from the entry of the trombones in the fourth a wonderful sense of triumph ended the concert. Michael Williams, The Waikato Times 23 July 2012 

Opus has in Peter Walls an inspiring and perceptive conductor and there is an exceptional spirit among its players, so that their concerts are consistently alive and pleasing. . .  Opus brought out strongly the human drama of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, with Peter Walls adroitly handling the composer’s sharp swings between a stark defiance to approaching deafness and music of sheer beauty. Hanno Fairburn, The Daily Post (Rotorua) 23 July 2012.

As we’ve come to expect from this orchestra, all sections played and responded beautifully to Maestro Walls’ clever phrasing.  In the final movement, the orchestra erupted with truly magnificent fire and intensity. Chalium Poppy, Bay of Plenty Times, 23 July 2012

There has also been much positive feedback from audience members, such as the following:

Please pass on our congratulations to Peter Walls and his magnificent orchestra.  Today’s concert at Rotorua was inspiring.  We all came out with huge smiles and feeling very uplifted.  Please also thank Deidre Irons – she gave an amazing performance. 

“Could you also thank Peter for speaking to us – besides passing on some wee gems of info which all add to the general enjoyment, the interaction does help make connections. (And he is so good at it, too!)”

 Players, too, have said how much they enjoyed the rehearsals and concerts:

Thank you for your wonderful leadership in the concerts on the weekend. It was very inspiring to play this music . . . Your introduction of the Scherzo of the symphony in Rotorua really made me understand this movement better and, I think, helped me to play it.