The Hunter Gathering
Te Kōkī Trio, Christina Barton, Chris Price
Wednesday 6 April 2016, Hunter Council Chamber,
Victoria University Wellington
A personal opinion from Stephen Gibbs
This is a new concept, instigated by Euan Murdoch, director of Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music and the Event Coordinator Sarah Smythe, with the support, and hosted by, Professor Jennifer Windsor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Victoria University, Wellington.
What a wonderful event!
This was a multi-disciplinary concert given by the Te Kōkī Trio [Martin Riseley – violin; Inbal Megiddo – cello; Jian Liu – piano]; Christina Barton, Director of the Adam Gallery; and Chris Price, Senior Lecturer at the International Institute of Modern Letters. It demonstrated the range and the expertise of the staff at Victoria University, and confirmed that the university is at the forefront of Wellington’s Creative Capital concept.
The concert was basically a ‘club sandwich’ – Duo; Lecture; Trio; Poetry; Trio – an attractive way of arranging the performances.
Martin and Inbal began with a four-movement work by Maurice Ravel, the Sonata for Violin and Cello. Rather than impressionistic, the music seemed to be intense with pungent dissonances and furious episodes. The pizzicato in the second movement was spiky and percussive and the third movement was a release – a breathing out. The spiccato bowing was truly impressive – and had a vulgar, rustic sound (in the best possible way!) I believe that Ravel had heard Kodály’s 1914 Duo for violin and cello and maybe he channelled some Hungarian folk music influences in this piece.
Christina Barton spoke about the Adam Gallery’s curating of the Victoria University art collection – about 500 pieces of art displayed at the several VUW campuses. In particular, she talked about the two art works on the opposing walls in the Hunter Council Chamber: the Richard Killeen ‘cut out’ pieces Welcome to the South Pacific and the magnificent stained glass window. She was eloquent and erudite and I liked the way she constructed the speech, drawing these very disparate art works into a cohesive whole, contextualizing their similarities.
The Te Kōkī Trio played Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. The first and third movements were sombre and solemn. The third was particularly profound – a passacaglia based on the piano theme – and the fourth movement was dynamically impressive. The extensive use of accented trills, the powerful bowing, the clamorous chords from the piano – it was almost symphonic.
Chris Price read from her new book of poems, Beside Herself, all related to the theme of music and art. The first was inspired by a visit to the gym, Tango with Mute Button – an amusing and barbed look at life. She was an engaging reader and her personal asides were welcome.
The last performance from the Te Kōkī Trio was a surprise: a trio rendition of a David Bowie song: Oh! You Pretty Things. It was a coup d’etat – a brilliant end of a brilliant evening.
The Te Kōkī Trio is exceptional. They mix up lectures, tutoring, teaching at NZSM with their careers as performers in Wellington, New Zealand, and around the world. Their sound is united, balanced and exciting – but best of all, they are clearly enjoying playing together.
And it showed.