New Zealanders will be surprised at what the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has achieved in Europe, according to TV personality Jeremy Wells.
Wells and a documentary TV crew have spent three weeks following the NZSO on the biggest international tour of its history, performing in China, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Switzerland in some of the world's most famous concert halls.
Wells said Kiwis would be taken aback by the way European audiences had received the NZSO.
"I've counted five standing ovations, two semi-standing ovations and one attempted standing ovation. They genuinely seem to be thrilled, and have been treated to a great time. And they're a tough crowd, who aren't easily impressed."
The NZSO had achieved other benchmarks, Wells said. "Professionalism and dedication - not only in music, but in grooming and personal hygiene. The standard of ablution is second to none."
Wells' crew had shot at least 80 hours of footage for a documentary that would ultimately reveal a new side of the NZSO to an audience unaccustomed to symphonic music.
"There's a complexity to orchestral music that means you can listen to the same symphony for 30 years and enjoy it more and more every time you hear it," said Wells. "I've still never met anyone who's been to an NZSO performance and not been moved."
Wells said spending three weeks in close quarters with NZSO musicians had resulted in new friendships. "I'm pleased with that because I like dropping names in polite dinner conversation. These guys are really clever people. Except the percussion guys."
Wells' 70-minute NZSO documentary is funded by New Zealand on Air for broadcast on Prime in mid-2011.
The NZSO tour ended tonight in Hamburg (local time). The orchestra arrives home to Wellington Airport at 6pm on Friday 19 November (NZ time).