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“A special concert to remember”

May 15, 2019

A highlight of the 2019 ITP Research Symposium Whanaungatanga was a concert by EIT Professor Matthew Marshall, Head of IDEAschool.

Concert Review – It’s Love Isn’t It? – Poetry and Guitar Chamber Music Reviewed by Peter Williams, HB Today Music Critic.

L-R Dr. Heleen du Plessis, Sir Jon Trimmer, Dame Kate Harcourt, Tessa Petersen, Prof Matthew Marshall

This was an almost unheralded concert, unique in character with a real wow factor and an eclectic programme which championed the music of New Zealand composers. With music for guitar, violin and cello in the first part, music and verse after the interval, the programme easily captured the audience’s attention from start to finish. The superb acoustic qualities of the Cent

Tessa Petersen, Prof Matthew Marshall, Dr Heleen du Plessis

ury Theatre made this the perfect venue.

Accomplished and vastly experienced classical guitarist, Matthew Marshall, Head of the EIT IDEAschool, featured in all the items.

He clearly showed the dark, somewhat strident character of the opening solo item, Usher Waltz by Russian-born Nikita Koshkin, highlighting the gruesome story of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Marshall was joined by violinist Tessa Petersen in the performance of Kenneth Young’s Suite for Violin and Guitar, each instrument complementing the other in melody and accompaniment in the first two movements, with the more sustained melodies of the Moderato sostenuto final movement finely balanced. 

The combination of the slightly dark, expressive sound of Helen du Plessis cello, portrayed precisely the character of the flowing melodies in Autumn Moods by Anthony Ritchie, ideally balancing the contrasting timbre of the guitar.

All three instrumentalists combined in the sparkling performance of the three movement Serenata by classical period composer Mauro Giuliani. A fine example of chamber music, with each of the performers keenly aware of each other’s part, with the character of each movement clearly portrayed, ending with exemplary contributions from each musician to reach an impressive climax in the Alla Polacca final movement.

Christchurch composer Philip Norman has had wide influence in this country’s artistic development. Marshall commissioned him to compose It’s Love, Isn’t it? Combining guitar music and the sound of the sea with the words of 15 love poems by New Zealand poets Alistair Te Ariki Campbell and Meg Campbell, the item poignantly pictured the highs and lows of their fifty year marriage.

Iconic New Zealanders, actress Dame Kate Harcourt and dancer Sir Jon Trimmer, joined Marshall in the performance, reading the short poems in turn, each followed by a guitar solo which conveyed the message of the poem. The clarity and expressiveness as they recited the Campbells’ idiomatic New Zealand language, combined perfectly with Marshall’s clear interpretation of the music which followed. The way the voice “glowed” in the words of Wild Honey, the fresh, lively sound of the guitar following The New House, the strident, incessant quality of the playing following Bee of Anger, were stand out examples.

A special concert to remember.