It’s a festival populated by mainly Australian groups, popping across the ditch for some music and adventure, but it always has a collection of New Zealand groups, and is a great performance opportunity for local groups from the Bay of Plenty region.
Days one and two are adjudicated sessions directly followed by clinics with an adjudicator – this was good fun, great to hear and work with so many groups.
These two days finish with rehearsals of the combined and honours groups. I took the combined string ensemble of 61 players. It was mammoth – 15 firsts, 22 seconds(!), 6 violas, 13 cellos and 5 basses. We enjoyed working on Sibelius, Holst and Leonie Holmes. Here they all are…
Day three is mainly a day of instrumental workshops with specialists. As a bit of difference I said I’d do one along the lines of ‘composing for your school ensemble’. I thought I’d get 5, perhaps 10 people max. About six people turned up in the first wave, and I was about to shut the door, then I heard footsteps and I ended up with about 70 students all super excited and ready to hear some tips. We had a medium sized dressing room and were packed to the absolute brim, with people out the door too. Here they all are…
Concerts Thursday and Friday nights complete the festival, and the groups have concerts elsewhere too.
I managed three pretty impressive dinners while I was there, so I thought they deserve a mention. First night was Indian Star Tandoori Restaurant – super, super delicious, and it’s located in the impressively modern Eat Streat precinct. Second night was Sabroso Restaurant – Mexican, heathy and completely hit the mark. Third night I hit the Rotorua Night Market – I remember having an almighty feast here when I was at the festival last time, but this one topped it – completely blew my socks off – glorious, fresh and great atmosphere too.
A really fun few days. Hopefully I can go back again one day!