AWE-inspiring music festival

The organisers of the third At the World’s Edge (AWE) chamber music festival — straddling Queenstown, Wānaka and Cromwell/Bannockburn — believe audiences will be on the edge of their seats, too.

Featuring top international and New Zealand artists, and Kiwi up-and-comers, the 14-day festival starts with a crescendo with today’s ‘Sono’ concert at Queenstown’s Te Atamira arts and cultural centre.

Running at both 4pm and 7pm, it commences with a string quartet performing Barber’s Adagio for Strings, the slow movement of which is the well-known sound track for Vietnam war movie Platoon.

‘‘It’s just so incredibly emotionally powerful,’’ festival director and renowned violinist Justine Cormack says.

It’s followed by the concert’s namesake work, Sono, by festival composer-in-residence Victoria Kelly.

Performed by a piano trio, it’s ‘‘spectacular, gorgeous, powerful, beautiful, emotional music,’’ Cormack says.

The concert’s rounded out by a York Bowen composition for horn quintet featuring the ‘‘musical Bear Grylls of British horn’’, Ben Goldscheider.

Festival star: AWE Festival’s guest artists include eminent Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak

London-based Kiwi violinist Ben Baker, the festival’s artistic director, says both Barber and York Bowen ‘‘were a little bit maligned during their lifetime, but they wrote this absolutely stunning music and it’s really coming back into vogue now’’.

For Queenstown audiences, the other big day’s next Friday, also at Te Atamira.

There’s a range of free events including a composition workshop at 1pm, young musicians session at 3pm, an emerging artist showcase at 5pm and ‘Sei Solo’, a novel music and dance performance featuring dance duo CONJAH (Ooshcon and Jahra Wasasala) and Baker, at 6pm.

That’s followed by a ‘meet the artist & composer talk’ at 7pm, then Queenstown’s second concert, ‘Immemorial’, at 8pm.

Other overseas stars playing at the festival include Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak and UK cellist Alice Neary.

NZ-based musos include violinist Vesa-Matti Leppänen, cellist Rolf Gjelsten and pianist Jian Liu.

For programme and booking info, visit

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