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Rick Armstrong Motors Classical Sparks Set to Explode On Stage this Saturday as the Finale of SummerTimes™ Festival.

23 February 2004

Saturday February 28th, 7.00pm to 9.00pm, North Hagley Park

This Saturday 28th February, North Hagley Park will come alive to the sights and sounds of classical music and stunning fireworks when Rick Armstrong Motors Classical Sparks celebrates the finale of the SummerTimes™ festival which has been entertaining the city of Christchurch for the last three months.

One of only two events that have remained part of the festival since it’s inception in 1983, Rick Armstrong Motors Classical Sparks attracted an audience of 6,000 twenty years ago, growing to 120,000 people last year. 

Over the years Classical Sparks has profiled performers that have gone on to great success, such as Halley Westenra and Ted Tahu Rhodes, and this years show promises more stunning performances from major New Zealand talent.

The Christchurch Symphony is joined once again by conductor and Musical Director Marc Taddei, who brings his style and enthusiasm to a programme of classical favourites.

Marc has had a wide-ranging career as a conductor, working in Europe and North America, in live performance and in television and film.

The evening begins with the William Tell Overture by Rossini, familiar to most people as the theme to ‘The Lone Ranger’.  The opera was the last that Rossini wrote, the complete performance being 6 hours long!

Spartacus by Katchaturian is also better known as a theme, this time to the classic British 1970’s costume drama, ‘The Onedin Line’.

The evening’s first star performance comes from Ben Morrison, Christchurch’s virtuoso violinist.  Ben has been riding a wave of success, after taking first place in the National Chamber Music Contest as leader of the Morrison Quartet in 2002.

Ben will play Summer from the ‘Four Seasons’ by Vivaldi.

The Christchurch Symphony will then play The Blue Danube by J. S. Strauss, who was known as ‘The Waltz King’. Probably the worlds most famous waltz, this piece of music began life as a vocal piece written for a local choral society, with lyrics written by a policeman concerning the glories of electric street lighting!  Strauss converted it to an orchestral piece and the rest is history.

Before interval, Viktoria Dodoka, one of the city’s most talented sopranos, sings arias from La Boheme and Romeo et Julliette.

The symphony will present two famous pieces to begin the second half: Fanfare of the Common Man by Copland and Suite Number 1 from Carmen by Bizet.  Written as a tribute to those engaged in World War II, Fanfare of the Common Man reflected the American economic strife of the 1940’s.  Carmen was condemned as being ‘obscene’ in 1875, and the opera was not well received.   Bizet died unhappy, and the full genius of the work was not realized until after his death.

Appearing his second SummerTimes festival, Tim Beveridge brings his award winning voice to the stage with the light, jazzy numbers Night and Day, She, and On the Street Where you Live before joining Viktoria Dodoka in a duet of Amigos para Siempre (Friends for Life) made famous by Sarah Brightman and Jose Carreras.

Tim is a rising star on the New Zealand vocal scene.  He has won places in the prestigious musical theatre competition ‘BBC Voice of Musical Theatre’ in 2000 and 2002, and has performed in major productions throughout New Zealand and overseas, recently collaborating with Eddie Raynor to produce his CD ‘Singer’.

Wagners famous Ride of the Valkyries has a special place in the hearts of Cantabrians.  Taken from the second of four operas that make up a 14 hour work called ‘The Ring Cycle’, we anticipate this short but heartfelt number will prompt the audience to hum along!

The evening concludes with the ever popular 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky.

Written as dedication to a new cathedral built to celebrate the Russian Art and Industry Exhibition, Tchaikovsky was determined to write a piece that was both patriotic and religious.  He named the piece after the Battle of Borodino where the Russians defeated Napolean and his armies.  Tchaikovsky added a military band to what was already a colossal orchestra, along with a large chorus, cannons, muskets and drums.   Debuting in 1882, the epic piece was greeted with shrieks and screams of pleasure and patriotism by the Russian audience.

Accompanied by breathtaking fireworks on Saturday, there may well be the same reaction from the anticipated 100,000 strong Christchurch audience!

Concert goers are encouraged to arrive early for good viewing, and are invited to bring a picnic and low chairs.  Food vendors will be onsite, and parking is available from 4.30pm for $3.  Additional parking can be reached via Riccarton Avenue.  In wet weather, this event will run the next day, 29th February.

Rick Armstrong Motors Classical Sparks is a free event and is produced by Christchurch City Council.  It is proudly sponsored  by Rick Armstrong Motors and is supported by MoreFM, The Community Trust and The Copthorne Hotel in Durham Street

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