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2023: A Year in Review

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

One more year down and we couldn't be happier with all that we've acheived.


Photo by Latitude Creative, dressed by taylor boutique

As 2023 is quickly coming to a close, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support and extend our best wishes for a very happy festive season and a relaxing break. However, before we all go off on our holidays, now seems like the perfect time to take a moment and celebrate 2023 and all we have experienced together.

 

70 concerts for over 6600 people.


2023 was an incredible adventure. The year has resonated with two key themes: community and collaboration. We were delighted to have extended our reach around Aotearoa even further than before, with performances spanning Kerikeri to Invercargill.


“There have been so many highlights in 2023. Our travels with Arts on Tour across all of May took us nearly the complete length and breadth of Aotearoa to some of the tiniest of towns, where we experienced such audience warmth. Seeing New Zealand’s beauty in its autumn glory, feeling the strong community spirit and the power and communication of music was exactly what I needed while dealing with loss after the sudden death of my older brother at the end of April.” – Gillian Ansell (viola)

56 different venues and communities, 28 of which we visited for the very first time.


Our work with Arts on Tour introduced us to corners of the country we’d never been able to visit before, such as Roxburgh, Balcairn and Paeroa. We have loved meeting new audiences and discovering gorgeous venues around the motu that we cannot wait to return to.


“One of my favourite memories was during our Arts on Tour experience this year, which took us to regional towns throughout Aotearoa. There was a real sense of warmth and community from every town. For example, Balcairn brought out two tables full of food to feast on during interval - channelling some kind of royal banquet I’d never witnessed in my performance experience! In Bannockburn, people would cheer as though we were a rock band after playing Haydn. For many concertgoers on this tour, it was their first time to hear a string quartet live (or at all!). This felt special and really highlighted the truth that classical music is for everyone.” – Monique Lapins (second violin)

We collaborated and performed with 18 New Zealand-based artists, resulting in an exciting mix of cross-genre and multi-disciplinary performances.


Just to name a few, we performed with Irish composer and guitarist Dave Flynn and three fabulous local traditional musicians in celebration of St Patrick's Day; we had loads of fun creating a new education work with renowned children's entertainer Chris Lam Sam; we reconnected with harpist Helen Webby in Christchurch and dear friend, pianist Diedre Irons, in Waikanae; we joined forces with the guitarist Justin Firefly Clarke for a sold-out midwinter performance; and we deepened our partnership with Horomona Horo with collaborative cross-genre concerts in Rotorua and Hamilton as part of our national tour, Woven Pathways.  


Our National Tour, Woven Pathways, was an opportunity to delve deep into our own artistic practice and present four completely unique programmes across one month.

 

“One of many highlights in 2023 was playing Ruth Crawford Seeger’s groundbreaking 1931 String Quartet on our national tour - “where has this piece been all my life” was a common reaction - so exciting to be the conduit for such discoveries.” – Helene Pohl (first violin)

 

11 international concerts.

 

Further afield in North America - our first visit back since 2019 - we had a blast performing with many new artists, as well as reuniting with old friends, including New Zealand pianist Nikki Melville, clarinettist Jim Campbell, and the Penderecki and Lafayette String Quartets - to name only a few. 

 

“My most memorable time this year was our concert in a beautiful church in my hometown, Victoria, Canada, after five years of being away. I was particularly inspired to play for family, musical friends and mentors from all stages of my musical life as well as some old school friends I hadn’t seen for 50 years!!!” – Rolf Gjelsten (cello)

 

1 brand-new concert series designed to make chamber music easier for new audiences to understand and access.


We rounded out the year with 'NZSQ Encounters', a relaxed concert series specially designed for community centres and for audiences of all ages. We had a ball performing in three Wellington suburbs and we are looking forward to sharing this new concert format in various locations around the country next year. 


75% of our concerts featured music by New Zealand composers.


Underpinning all our work this year was our partnership with the New Zealand School of Music - Te Kōkī, where we're extremely proud to be Quartet-in-Residence and to be nurturing the next generation of musicians. Through our teaching at the university, and our various music education partnerships around the country, we know the future of chamber music in New Zealand is bright.


This partnership played a huge role in helping us launch our album, Notes from a Journey II. This is our second collection of works by New Zealand composers and is on sale now! Our first collection, Notes from a Journey, won Best Classical Album at the Vodafone NZ Music Awards in 2011, and this second collection promises to be just as captivating.


Notes from a Journey II Te Haerenga | Cover art: Tio Waka II, Simon Kaan. Image reproduced courtesy of the artist and Sanderson Contemporary Art.


After all of that, we’re looking forward to some well-deserved R&R over the summer break. But don’t worry, after a bit of hiking, camping, swimming in the sea and visiting whānau, we’ll be back with a bang in 2024. We’ve got some exciting things in store for the next twelve months and we cannot wait to share them with you.

 

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi 

With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

 

See you again soon!


Ngā manaakitanga,

Aislinn Ryan, General Manager

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