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End of the Path: A Look Back on Our 2023 National Tour

Our violist, Gillian Ansell, reflects on another wonderful National Tour.

On our 22nd National Tour, this year entitled “Woven Pathways”, the NZSQ wended its merry way round the motu over five weeks in August and September, playing four programmes in 15 concerts in 10 cities and returning between each leg to Wellington to teach at New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī.

The four musicians of NZSQ stand in the middle of a restaurant warming up with their instruments
NZSQ warm up at Wither Hills in Blenheim

Many venues were old favourites but we also had the fun of discovering five great new places to play — St George’s Church Takapuna, the Wither Hills Winery in Blenheim, the Historic Rose Chapel in Christchurch, the Alexander Room in New Plymouth and Webb’s Gallery in Wellington.

Our programmes, always chosen with great care and debate, introduced audiences to some 20th century masterpieces, American Ruth Crawford Seeger’s compact and gritty ground-breaking work, Shostakovich’s heart-breaking 5th quartet, Prokofiev’s playful but moving 1st quartet and Bartok’s masterful last quartet. Alongside those we included several 21st century works from New Zealand and 2 masterpieces from the classical genre. These wide-ranging programmes gave both us and our audiences plenty to be stimulated, challenged and excited by.

The found musicians of NZSQ are smiling at the camera while standing on a bridge overlooking Waiotapu Scenic Reserve. Behind them, thick steam rises from the pool underneath the bridge.
A pit stop en route to Rotorua

Travelling by van for several segments of the tour, we hit the jackpot weatherwise, with the sun shining for nearly the whole tour. Seeing our beautiful countryside in early spring was for the most part a total delight, with blossoms, lambs, everything green and fresh. But the most memorable and distressing part was driving on a stunning day from Napier to Rotorua, through the Esk Valley, remembering its former beauty and seeing the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle’s absolute devastation, mountains of slash, mud everywhere, even after the enormous amount of clearing work already done. A very sobering reminder of climate change’s power to wreak havoc.

Five musicians, two violinists, one violist, one cellist and a taonga puoro player, stand on stage, facing the audience.
Performing in Hamilton alongside Horomona Horo.

We’re always grateful for the support of our family of sponsors and donors, in particular, the Turnovsky Endowment Trust, for making this tour possible. And, as always, we loved connecting with our audiences around the country, seeing old friends and making new ones, bringing people acoustic music in intimate spaces and hopefully adding richness to the lives of our audiences.

- Gillian Ansell, viola

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