The Waikanae Music Society’s concert on Sunday April 30 will introduce an instrument never before seen or heard on the Waikanae Memorial Hall stage – theorbo. A very large member of the lute family, with an extremely long neck and deep resonant tone, it was developed during the 16th and 17th centuries to provide the lowest possible notes for instrument ensembles. Theorbo player Simon Martyn-Ellis will be joined by the other musicians of touring ensemble Les Voisins to present a highly unusual and entertaining programme that traverses the music of France from the Baroque court of Louis XIV, through the vibrant colours of Ravel’s Impressionism, to the early jazz world of the Hot Club de France.
Les Voisins means neighbours – violinist Justine Cormack and cellist James Bush grew up next to each other in Christchurch and have frequently performed together throughout their careers. Justine was a foundation member of NZTrio, multiple prize-winner James has followed a career in early music, while Australian Simon Martyn-Ellis is in demand to play guitar, lute and theorbo with various ensembles around the world. Together as Les Voisins they are making an extensive tour around the country for Chamber Music New Zealand.
There will be a chance to hear the theorbo played solo in two works by Robert de Visée, a court musician for Louis XIV. Baroque ensemble pieces include an elegant Sonata by Jean-Marie Leclair and Marin Marais’ popular Sonnerie (Bells of St Geneviève in Paris). Then NZ composer Alex Taylor has been commissioned to write his response to the music of the Baroque. The second part of the concert will feature Ravel’s melodious Sonata for Violin and Cello, after which Simon Martyn-Ellis will swap his theorbo for a guitar and the music of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. Seldom has a concert contained so many surprises and so much variety.
The concert will be at 2.30pm in the Waikanae Memorial Hall. Door sales will be available, or tickets can be purchased at Waikanae New World and Moby Dickens Books in Paraparaumu Beach.