Youth Ambassador Review: New Zealand Guitar Quartet

Two of our youth ambassadors, Matt and Mel, headed along to the New Zealand Guitar Quartet yesterday. Check out their reviews! 


The New Zealand Guitar Quartet revealed itself as one of the treasures of New Zealand Music this afternoon to a full Christchurch Arts Festival Audience.

The guitar quartet as an instrumental ensemble is perhaps one of the more mysterious groups of the classical world. I must admit going into the Fletcher Festival Club I was a little unsure as to what this quartet might present…. Would it be modern guitar music or something more classical? The answer of course is both of these, and so much more.

Jane Curry, Owen Moriarty, Christopher Hill and Tim Watanabe presented a programme of diverse works that was as unique and impressive as the players themselves. The quartet entered the stage as polished and professional as the works they presented, while as the concert progressed we as an audience came to know the unique voice of each player: witty, charming, delicate and intricate. These four distinct voices came together in such a seamlessly organic way to produce a musical gift that was something greater than any single instrumentalist could produce - such is the power of chamber and ensemble music.

The concert itself was an impressive kaleidoscope through which the audience transported to a realm of musical possibility - in the short programme the quartet inspired its audience with musical gems ranging from Brazilian to Spanish Guitar and back again, as well as works from the classical idiom and New Zealand music. These were presented with technical brilliance and emotional depth. Owen Moriarty's arrangements of these were particularly impressive, and what left a lasting impression on me was the quartet's ability to breathe fresh new life into each work. 

I left the Festival Club convinced that the New Zealand Guitar Quartet is undoubtedly one of the treasures of New Zealand Music, bridging the void between genres and exploring new realms: the mark of truly great musicians.




Looking at the programme for the New Zealand Guitar Quartet's performance, I was dubious about the programming of well-known pieces such as Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.3 and Rimsky-Kosakov's Capriccio Espagnol, compositions that are written for String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra respectively.  

However, there was no need to worry about this musicbeing played by such a fantastic group of New Zealand musicians: Christopher Hill, Jane Curry, Tim Watanabe and Owen Moriarty.

The programme was very diverse, featuring works from Brazil, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, America, Russia and Chile. Apart from the Bach and the Rimsky-Kosakov,the programme included Baiao de Gude by Paulo Bellinati which is a traditionalBrazilian dance, Onslow Suite (II) by New Zealand composer, Craig Utting and selections from Manuel de Falla's, El Amor Brujo. Brandenburg Concerto No.3 by J.S. Bach is fast; it is astonishing how relaxed and easy the quartet made everything look. 

Carlos Rafael Rivera's Cumba-Quin was filled with complicated rhythm changes and a number of percussive effects. The programme concluded with an energetic Tarentella written by Chilean Folk Group, Inti Illimani.

The New Zealand Guitar Quartet are very talented and well worth a listen if you get the chance.