For almost a decade the Mercury Bay community have enjoyed the cultural enrichment of numerous performances by the Auckland Youth Orchestra. The orchestra has a long and proud tradition of performing in towns and cities outside Auckland, enabling audiences the opportunity to enjoy listening to some of New Zealand’s most gifted young soloists and potential professional musicians.
The Auckland Youth Orchestra (AYO) comprises of musicians aged 16-26. Musical Director Antun Poljanich, originally from Croatia, has been conducting the AYO for many years. Back when he was a newcomer to the country, touring to the smaller towns became his way of experiencing and learning about provincial New Zealand.
“I really appreciate learning about New Zealand by visiting places with the AYO,” he said.
“We enjoy playing at Whitianga Town Hall and audiences say it’s like being in the middle of the orchestra. Because of the synergy we have with the audience it is very pleasant to play there. We’re very much looking forward to it this year because we didn’t get there last year.”
The AYO’s next performance at Whitianga Town Hall is Saturday 4th May. Antun says he’s very excited about the upcoming programme because it is all about promoting connection with other cultures through music. As the AYO grows, 60% of the orchestra is of Asian origin, who “bring excellence and put in a lot of effort” according to their director.
Yet the AYO has traditionally played mostly western music. The AYO’s May concert; “Butterfly Lovers” hopes to promote diversity, and emphasise the contribution by the orchestra’s young Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean musicians.
The concert will include the Chinese Spring Festival Overture, the Butterfly Lovers concerto and Schuman’s Symphony Number 1. The Butterfly Lovers concerto is very popular in Asian parts of the world yet lesser known in the west. Gloria Tian is the soloist performing this concerto. Gloria was Runner-Up of the AYO’s recent solo competition.
The Schuman piece is the Western part of the performance which encapsulates the sound of the AYO. “It is very youthful, it is enthusiastic, it is the sound of the symphony,” says Antun.
Antun suggests the uniqueness of experiencing a youth orchestral performance is that audiences can feel the optimism and enthusiasm expressed through the music.
“Young people discovering the music bring a freshness and youthful enthusiasm to the performance.”
“We love coming back to Mercury Bay because of the enthusiastic audience and the real sense of welcome we receive whenever we visit.”
Tickets for Butterfly Lovers are available from Paper Plus, Whitianga, and on the Door at Whitianga Town Hall.