Past Event20 Nov 2016

Poème Héroïque

No longer available

Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall

Classical music

The Aorangi Symphony Orchestra proudly presents a unique World War One commemoration concert, featuring orchestral works related to the conflict and the theme of war.

We wish to commemorate a little-known but significant battle, the Battle of Romani, which took place in the Sinai Desert in August 1916, involving large numbers as ANZACs as well as the Auckland Mounted Battalion.

Two composers in tonight’s programme served in the Great War: Maurice Ravel was a lorry driver in the Thirteenth Artillery Regiment, and Ralph Vaughan Williams was a medical orderly and subsequently a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery.


The programme is as follows:

Marcel Dupré - Poeme Heroique Op.33 (1935) for Organ, Brass and Field Drum, dedicated to the Battle of Verdun.

Maurice Ravel - Le Tombeau de Couperin (1914-1917), each movement dedicated to a fallen soldier.

Ralph Vaughan Williams - The Lark Ascending (1914/1921).

Dimitri Shostakovich - Symphony No.5 in D Minor, Op 47 (1937).

Formerly Ensemble Polymnia, the Aorangi Symphony Orchestra makes its debut in the Auckland Town Hall, under the baton of internationally known conductor Sarah Bisley,  whose appearances to date have been with the State Hermitage Orchestra of St Petersburg, Savaria Symphony Orchestra of Szombathely, Hungary, Marihilfer Oper in Vienna, the orchestra of L'Opera de Massy in Paris, Ensemble Polymnia in Austria, France and New Zealand, the Aorangi Singers, the Nelson Symphony Orchestra and Opera Waikato.

The title work is to be performed by organist Philip Smith, who gave an outstanding performance of the “Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani” with Ensemble Polymnia in 2014. The violin soloist for the hugely popular and beautifully nostalgic work, The Lark Ascending, is rising star Joella Pinto, while celebrated actor and director Raymond Hawthorne is to narrate several poems from the Great War.

Symphony No.5 In D Minor is arguably Shostakovich’s most outspoken and expressive of his symphonies, a work which brought Leningrad to its knees at the premiere in 1937, with the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky. It is reported that the ovation lasted well over half an hour.  As a passionate and telling expression of the struggle of the human soul in the decades of political repression under Stalin, audiences in St Petersburg stated that “the composer has given us what we needed”.

…Conductor Sarah Bisley's string ensemble, performers full of passion and energy and driven by a collective wisdom and an individual understanding of the works they were offering… the Elgar 'Introduction' and 'Allegro, Op 47' demonstrated grandeur unbounded, an evocation of Empire which is so typical of the composer, and the difficult fugue was handled with a rare and polished delight….Ralph Vaughn Williams's 'Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis'… filled the sanctuary with harmony and the audience with pleasure.​

- Waikato Times, NZ


After one has been a critic for a decade or more, it is rare to find the pulses racing at a performance, but that was the result of the presentation of a recently discovered work by CPE Bach… here was a concert full of moments of sheer pleasure, of intense emotion, of continuing delights.

- Waikato Times, NZ

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