Thursday, December 10, 2009

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and one of the most spectacular cities in the world – lots of volcanoes, lots of beaches and a spectacular harbour. How about this?
As in Whangarei, I was invited to give a workshop by the RMT (Registered Music Teachers) Auckland branch. There are RMT branches all over New Zealand and they do a great job of promoting good piano teaching, as well as putting on events like this!

The large group again consisted of teachers and students and quite a few people came up to play duets and to try some improvisation. I did the same 2-part presentation as in Whangarei and again interest and enthusiasm were in evidence. Here I am in action:
As the picture indicates, the workshop was in a church – there are a number of striking historic churches in Auckland and this one, St Lukes Church in Remuera, is really very attractive, especially on a sunny day. The stained glass and the dark wood make for a very distinctive combination.
One of the most striking aspects of this workshop was that I had answered “tea and cake” when asked what I would like to have available at the half-way point. The organizers had made a fantastic Christmas cake and offered it to the audience (along with lots of other goodies) at the break. What was left of the cake (which was considerable) was ceremonially presented to me to take with me on the rest of my trip. How about that for New Zealand hospitality?

Finally, here’s a picture of what you can tell is a very attentive audience at the Auckland workshop:
Thanks to Liz Calvert of the Auckland RMT for doing such a fantastic job organising this event. I hope to see you all again soon!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whangarei, New Zealand

Whangarei is the northernmost city in New Zealand and it has a warm and humid subtropical climate. Summers occasionally exceed 30°C, and there is plenty of rain, spread relatively evenly throughout the year. It has a stunning harbour and coastline. Here’s a picture of Whangarei:
I gave a presentation on the 9th December for the Whangarei Registered Music Teachers and the good-sized audience was a nice mixture of teachers and students. Some had come some considerable distance to be there. The by-now-familiar game of two halves consisted of a talk about American Popular Piano (, great New Zealand tea and cakes and then a presentation on Microjazz, featuring both a greatest hits element and tracks from my latest album(s). The audience were both attentive and enthusiastic and I was pleased to have both teachers and students coming up to play and even to improvise.
Here are three very cheerful students from Northland:
The audience certainly “got” what I was talking about and there was lots of interest in the new material – APP of course, but also brand-new books like MicroLatin and MicroRock. And of course the Christmas material, both Concert Collection and New APP Christmas pieces, proved of interest (in spite of the sun blazing outside!)

One special feature of this workshop was the presence of a very gifted 9 year old composer, Joseph Kaptein, who played a very impressive piece of his own at the end of the workshop. New Zealand is still producing them! Here he is at the piano:
Thanks to Dora Harkness, the secretary of the Northland branch of the RMT, for putting this event on and for getting such a good crowd (and on such a nice day!)