New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Family Concert
Directed by Hamish McKeich
Napier Municipal Theatre, Monday, August 22
Reviewed by Peter Williams

A super family night out, this free concert attracted a capacity audience which revelled in the popular selection of music provided in the varied programme, keeping all enthralled throughout from preschoolers upwards.

Well-known consummate entertainer of The Funky Monkeys fame, Chris Lam Sam, made a great compere with his continual patter and repartee with the audience, as he introduced the orchestra members and the distinctive sound of their instruments.

A super occasion - a first meeting for many in the audience with the 55 members of the NZSO. The kids in the audience loved it all and I'm sure the adults did also.

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Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (think Superman), made a spectacular start to proceedings with its powerful brass and percussion sounds, followed by the gentle sound-picture of Morning from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite and then the rumbustious Hall of the Mountain King. Part of the first movement of the Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor (think "ta-ta-ta-tum") was a sure-fire winner, while the well-known overture Ruslan and Ludmilla by Glinka and the brilliance of the Offenbach Can-Can had the audience on its feet at the end in appreciation.

The music story Peter and the Wolf was a real hit with all the audience. In his own inimitable way, Chris Lam Sam narrated the story, enhancing Pokofiev's distinctive music in its representation of all the characters involved.

Hamish McKeich, with the immediacy of his smart conducting and interaction with Chris Lam Sam, along with the ready good-humoured participation of all the players, made the evening a lively musical romp, ensuring new fans for the NZSO.