The orchestra's new apprentice

By William Dart

Ray Chan is the APO's first Conducting Fellow.  Photo:  Adrian Malloch
Ray Chan is the APO's first Conducting Fellow. Photo: Adrian Malloch

This year, the APO starts its first Conducting Fellowship.

Ray Chan, 26, will discover, under music director Giordano Bellincampi's guidance, the joys of working with a professional orchestra.

Along with the opportunity to be involved in the nuts-and-bolts activities, down to working on scores with the APO's music librarian, Chan will conduct the orchestra in selected community and educational concerts.

He comes with an international CV to make the head whirl; a young man with the initiative and chutzpah to organise his own chamber orchestra in Auckland three years ago for a series of sell-out concerts.

Chan is enthusiastic about working with the genial Bellincampi, describing him as one of the most chivalrous and polite people imaginable.

As for hearing Chan in action, on April 23 he'll conduct a group of 17 musicians in the Pop-Up Globe to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, putting the words of The Bard in the company of music they inspired.

Meanwhile, Bellincampi is now in his second year as the APO's music director and says he's impressed by its absolute professionalism and generous focus. By this, Bellincampi means a programme which includes subscription concerts in Auckland Town Hall but also taking music all around the region.

"Not only is our repertoire extremely broad but initiatives such as Sistema in South Auckland encourage youngsters to take up their own instruments."

That's on top of In Your Neighbourhood performances in smaller venues around the region throughout this year and a varied education programme, of which Sistema is part of, that sees young people of all ages able to experience the APO.

He also praises the audiences, saying they always listen intensely and with a real curiosity to their music. However, the Italian maestro says the APO always has to strive to play even better.

"I see this in every orchestra. It's a challenge for all of us that never goes away."

On Thursday, Bellincampi conducts his third of three Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra concerts featuring principal oboist Bede Hanley in a concerto by American composer Christopher Rouse.

What: The Scottish Symphony
Where & when: Auckland Town Hall, Thursday

- NZ Herald

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