Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

Classical Review of 2011, Dunedin.

Predictably, the Forsyth Barr Stadium is best known for its hit and miss acoustics that is until further money is spent. Though performed energetically at the ODT’s “Big Night In”, classic arias remained audible only to a few. Meanwhile, renovations of Dunedin’s acoustically excellent concert venues resulted in a peripatetic year for orchestral and chamber music events. Southern Sinfonia which continues to raise its game, moved into the Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre, where both the acoustics and the auditorium are excellently designed. Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with soloist Lara St John, and Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” were both stunning. The Sinfonia commissioned a work from the 2011 Mozart Fellow, Chris Adams. “Symphonic Dances” is a charming piece of lateral thinking and was performed with wonderful understanding.

Chamber Music decamped from the Town Hall where Jenny Wollerman and the NZ String Quartet had performed Schoenberg’s String Quartet No 2 to the more homely Knox Church for “Voices of Aotearoa”. Though these performances were very different in character – the former challenging Schoenberg’s reputation of being difficult by highlighting his allegiance to Mahler and cabaret and the latter melding Mäori and European New Zealand sounds – they drew boisterous responses from enthralled Dunedin audiences.

St Kilda Brass and soloists Emma Frazer and Jason Balla under the direction of David Burchell got classical with a “Night at the Opera” and transformed works from Carmen and The Magic Flute.

Marama Hall hosted “Jekyll Rat” by Adams for the New Zealand Trio. This politically motivated and cleverly wrought work in three sections takes its inspiration from furtive political dealings. The audience is invited to sup warily before a charming “Sycophant’s Dance” seduces them and “Insanity” takes over.