New Music Central – Berlin to Broadway
11 March 2019 - Chemistry
Join School of Music staff Zara Ballara (voice) and Iola Shelley (piano) for this concert presentation of music by Kurt Weill as part of the University of Canterbury School of Music New Music Central series.
Son of a Jewish cantor, Kurt Weill was born in Dessau, Germany in 1900. It was here his musical study and career began.
This concert follows Weill’s life journey through some of his popular and lesser-known songs. Beginning in Berlin with Berlin Im light, a song he was commissioned to write for an electrical company.
His journey continues as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime begins to change the face of Germany and Weill was soon seen as a threat. Fearing for their lives, he and his wife Lotte Lenya fled to Paris where they spend several years in exile. During this time he wrote music for the play adaptation of Jaque Deval’s novel Marie Galante, including Je ne t’aime pas and Youkali.
With World War II now in full force, moving to America seemed the only safe option. Weill began writing propaganda songs such as Schicklegruber and Hello There Buddy on the nightshift in order to support the war effort.
The couple never intended to remain in America, but eventually could not see themselves ever returning safely to Berlin. Weill’s music was being performed in America long before his arrival in 1935, but he went on to create such iconic Broadway songs as Foolish Heart, My Ship and Speak Low. This journey through songs, both known and unknown, show how he established himself as a truly diverse composer and a writer of great music.
Zara was born in Christchurch and has recently returned after 16 years living, performing and teaching in London.
She began her formal studies at Victoria University with Emily Mair. She was the first performance student to graduate there with a Master’s Degree in singing. She completed her postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and represented the school at several international events, including Opera Montepulciano in conjunction with Hochschule für Musik, Köln.
She has appeared in master classes with Roger Vignoles, Graham Johnson, Sarah Walker and Brigitte Fassbaender and took the soprano solo part in Haydn’s The Creation conducted by Sir Colin Davis.
In 2000 she won the prestigious Maggie Teyte prize and performed a solo recital accompanied by Simon Lepper at the Royal Opera House. She made her début at Wigmore Hall, London in 2002 performing Encantos The Songs of Spain for the Company of Singers and Players.
Zara has sung as a solo artist throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, but since the birth of her two sons she has focused her efforts on voice teaching both peripatetically and privately. Zara is currently a voice coordinator at the University of Canterbury.
Pianist Iola was the youngest-ever recipient of the Performing Diplomas from the London Royal Academy & College of Music and she turned her focus to chamber music after moving to New Zealand.
She has appeared in concert and recording with many of the world’s leading soloists, made several appearances at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, and was official accompanist for all seven Adam International Cello Festivals, playing with the now-stellar Renaud Capucon and the legendary Leslie Parnas (their recital was reviewed in The Strad magazine as “the concert of the decade”).
She has been a Royal Schools examiner and was artistic director of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra for many years. She is now staff accompanist at the School of Music.
Recordings include High Spirits (EMI) with Mark Walton, and Rachmaninov Songs (Atoll) with Victorya Dodoka, in which Iola’s playing was described by Alexander Ivashkin as “exquisite”.
Date: Monday 11 March 2019
Time: 7.00pm to 8.30pm
Venue: Recital Room, University of Canterbury Arts at the Arts Centre, Chemistry building, 3 Hereford St, Christchurch.