Chamber Music New Zealand (CMNZ) and the Hunter Collective were in the middle of collaboratively creating a free, whānau-friendly stage-show that would tour Matariki festivals across Aotearoa when gatherings were banned and the country went into lockdown.
Because the two organisations are committed to delivering an annual Matariki performance, they quickly changed gear to produce a series of enchanting online musical episodes designed to help tamariki and rangatahi all over the world discover the joys of western classical and Māori music.
Ngā Waiata o te Pō follows a group of campers on a wilderness adventure to discover the Matariki constellation in the night sky. The episodes will air on Sundays 12, 19, 26 July and 2 August at 10am. Each is built around a different theme and has a musical performance at its core.
Well-known and multi-talented New Zealand musician Troy Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) has composed the entire work, which showcases performances by soprano Te Ohorere Williams (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Pukenga), cellist Olivia Wilding (Ngāti Porou), actor, puppeteer and illusionist Justin Rogers (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi), and actor and musician Jon Hunter (Ngāpuhi). Costumes are being designed by Lee Williams (Tainui).
Additionally, a section dedicated to ‘familiar faces’ will include cameos including Troy Kingi himself and a number of other mystery, celebrity guests.
Co-creator and director Jon Hunter works across the performance spectrum around Aotearoa. He was a senior acting tutor at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama school for seven years, is a voice specialist, and directs opera, musical theatre and stage plays, as well as coaching on film and television. He says -
Constraint breeds innovation. What we’ve been able to create – because lockdown forced us to – is far more inventive than I’d originally imagined for the piece. And moving online breaks down another barrier to classical music for children. No trying to get them to a theatre, here’s a group of Māori artists celebrating Matariki and bringing one of our stories right into your living room. My real hope for the piece is that, by us doing our thing, we model something that encourages all children to discover, dream and sing their own stories and histories.
Ngā Waiata o te Pō is a free event that will air on Chamber Music New Zealand’s YouTube channel.