NZ actor conquers musical mountain

Monday 21 July 2008, 7:22PM
By Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra


Journey to the hall of Norway’s mythical Mountain King this August as the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and accomplished actor Paolo Rotondo conjure the remarkable life of adventurer and rogue Peer Gynt.

One of the most popular suites in classical music, Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, based on a play by Henrik Ibsen, will be performed at a concert titled Northern Lights on Thursday, 21 August at 8pm in the Aotea Centre. The performance, the final of this year’s Vero Aotea Series, continues the APO’s successful formula of presenting some of the world’s best-loved classical music in concert suitable for both established music-lovers and newcomers to the concert hall.

“It’s a huge challenge, but I’m massively excited about working with the APO,” says Paolo Rotondo, who will narrate the piece’s dramatic turns with his cast of 68 musicians, including soprano Emma Roxburgh. “Peer Gynt is such a fascinating character. His story is both fun and tragic and I think we can all empathise with him as he constantly botches his plans. And taking the stage with the orchestra gives me an incredible canvas to create the tale.”

Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite features the instantly recognisable pieces Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King, both of which continue to be used in popular culture.

The concert also includes a performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto, played by Auckland pianist Henry Wong Doe. Wong Doe’s international career has been on the rise since winning ‘audience favorite’ prizes at both the Rubinstein and Busoni International Piano Competitions and has led to prestigious engagements, including Carnegie Hall at the end of the year. Rounding out the evening is Lilburn’s spirited Festival Overture.

“This Norwegian-themed concert takes audiences on scintillating journey through the peaks and valleys of Grieg’s popular musical landscape,” says APO Chief Executive, Barbara Glaser. “And with its incredible pool of local talent, Northern Lights is the perfect finale to the broad appeal of this year’s Vero Aotea Series,”

Single tickets to Northern Lights (from $20-$65) are available from Ticketek, Ph 09 307 5139,

Northern Lights – Vero Aotea Series, Concert 3
Thursday 21 August, 8pm, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE


What: Northern Lights – Vero Aotea Series 3
When: 8pm, Thursday 21 August
Where: Aotea Centre, THE EDGE

Marko Letonja

Henry Wong Doe

Paolo Rotondo

Emma Roxburgh


Lilburn Festival Overture
Grieg Piano Concerto
Grieg Peer Gynt Suite