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Sweet Memories are Made of This: Celebrating 20 Seasons of our National Tour

Kia whakanui tātou, It’s time to celebrate!

A special year indeed, 2021 marks the 20th season of our annual National Tour - our flagship series which sees us traverse the breadth and depth of Aotearoa New Zealand. From Timaru to Tauranga, Wellington to Waiheke we’ve loved performing across all corners of the country, forming special connections with people and places as we go.

It’s thanks to the generous support from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust that we’ve been able to continue to share our music on tour with all of New Zealand, championing NZ composers and connecting with schools and young people along the way. Your sustained and visionary support means the world – thank you.

While this year’s tour is temporarily on-hold, we’re excited to share reflections from nearly 20 years of music making, adventures, mishaps and laughter: stories from the very beginning, on the road, and just minutes before we stepped on stage. There’s never a dull moment on tour with the NZSQ!


Bach, Blenheim and Ball Gowns

Gillian Ansell | Viola

I’ve got such a kaleidoscope of memories in my mind as I contemplate almost 20 years of National Tours we’re currently celebrating.

With so many thousands of hours of repertoire planning, rehearsals and personal practice preparation, discovering new venues, dress rehearsals, concerts, van rides, plane trips, hotel rooms, occasional stays with friends and family, meeting audience after concerts, it’s all been a set of rich and fulfilling experiences I wouldn’t give up for anything.

I have extremely happy memories of each time we play in the Treehouse at Cloudy Bay in Blenheim, (including a non-lethal version of Russian Roulette), where the quartet plays in the round with audience at tables happily sipping away at wine, gazing past us out at the mountains, or in the gorgeous acoustics of the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts in Hamilton, where every nuance you make with the bow and vibrato is enhanced and amplified.

I’ve loved our fun times playing in the intimacy of the Lodge Theatre, Geraldine with the array of fabulous costumes stored on hangars backstage, including lots of fur coats, ball gowns etc, (some of which needed trying on at interval) and staying with our fabulous hosts in their gracious home and park-like garden.

Another favourite performance spot is the gorgeously warm and woody Church Road Winery, beautifully designed to be a small concert hall as well as a place for barrels of wine to mature and as is, of course, the Nelson School of Music, which overwhelms me with happy memories (from the Adam Festival and Adam Summer School) every time I set foot in it, and which we call our second home.

One of our most fun projects was celebrating Haydn (2009) when we chose our very favourite movements and interspersed them with his letters, which we read in various voices. But each year we have played incredible music, from Purcell, to Bach, Mozart to Sh