Warming up: Event organisers/vollies at a recent get-together, from left, Benn Lapper, Nicole Fairweather, Cuillin Hearty, Ella Gutschlag, Riley Tenquist, Anne Rodda, Margaret O'Hanlon, Fiona Woodham, Ann Wyatt, Alison Price, Janey Labes and Dan Childs. PICTUREL LEILA MURTON POOLE


A Queenstown music festival intended as a one-off replacement for last year’s Michael Hill International Violin Competition struck a chord, so it’s returning next weekend.

Executive director Anne Rodda says Easter’s Whakatipu Music Festival — again heavily
backed by Arrowtown jeweller Sir Michael Hill’s family — is ‘‘just more robust, more rounded’’ this time.

‘‘It’s a broader offering of classical, jazz, taonga puoro [Maori instruments], singer-songwriting, and there’s a more robust community aspect to it, more workshops, quality performances, all of this in a kind of madcap four days.’’

Rodda says last year’s festival wasn’t just well supported, ‘‘it was really appreciated, you could see the looks on people’s faces.

‘‘It was giving [performers] purpose after being locked down.

‘‘When you’re a creative and you’ve got nothing to work toward, then kind of one day
morphs into another, but if you’ve got a goal, you’ve just got more purpose for what you’re doing.’’

This month’s event features 11 professionals, 12 of New Zealand’s ‘‘finest emerging artists’’ and more than 100 community musicians.

Rodda says it’s acting as a spur for many local musos to showcase their talent.

Among them are a jazz quartet formed for the festival by Arrowtown’s Dale Gold, who’re playing on opening night, April 15, and students of piano teacher Kinga Krupa, vocal coach Margaret O’Hanlon and the Turn Up The Music school.

A ‘community showcase’ on April 16 also features local singer-songwriter Billie Carey and a scaled-down version of Wakatipu High’s musical, Footloose.

For would-be festival-goers nervous about venturing to Queenstown Memorial Centre
because of Covid, Rodda says: ‘‘There’s been lots of evidence offshore that classical music attendance is incredibly safe because it’s not like there’s a bunch of rowdies, and you face forward and you don’t talk to each other.’’

Seating will also be spaced out.

For programme info and ticketing, see