If medals were handed out for supporting local composers, then Peter Scholes' lapels would be seriously sagging.
As conductor and clarinettist, he opened Auckland Chamber Orchestra's final 2018 concert with not one but two premieres.
Ben Hoadley's Turakirae drew a warm audience response with its unabashedly retro harmonies, some of which needed sweeter strings to do them full justice.
Nevertheless, there was effective shimmering under Scholes' expressive clarinet solos, nicely complemented by the viola of Helen Bevin.
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There was no need to be daunted by Alex Taylor's highly technical programme notes for his new Flute Concerto as its charismatic soloist Abigail Sperling easily persuaded us to simply surrender to the sound.
Inevitably, Taylor's delicate washes of colour invoked French associations and there was elegant enchantment to be found in Sperling's effortless and often intricate arabesques, incorporating microtonal inflections with finesse.
Picking up piccolo, she duelled with fierce orchestral roars; returning to flute she led her colleagues in a merry dash of skipping metres. The final movement, opening with exquisitely chiselled woodwind, was signed off with the white-note simplicity of Erik Satie.
After the interval, Mozart's G minor Symphony, while not lacking in gusto, did want for refinement and crucial balancing. The observing of every possible repeat meant that focus was drawn, over and over again, to issues of intonation.
The ACO is unique in this country, surviving on a combination of sponsorship and audience koha. There is a sense of whanau or community at concerts and inevitably, each features a speech and song from genial chairman Frank Olsson.
The ballad was What a wonderful world and, even without the green trees and red roses that its lyrics extol, one couldn't help but think that the courage and indomitability of the ACO is also part of what makes life worthwhile.
What: Auckland Chamber Orchestra
Where: Raye Freedman Centre
Reviewed by: William Dart