Donald Armstrong


Andrew Thomson


Vyvyan Yendoll


Robert Ibell


Hiroshi Ikematsu


Double Bass
Philip Green


Robert Weeks


Gregory Hill




Jean Françaix
(1912 - 1997)

OCTET, 'A HUIT' (1972)




Mouvement de Valse

Jean Françaix was born into a musical family in Le Mans and his early talent was nutured by his parents. He began composing at the age of six, and was encouraged by Ravel, becoming a pupil of the famous teacher Nadia Boulanger who considered him to be one of the very best of her students. He gained early fame as a virtuoso pianist, and as a composer he followed in the tradition of Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Satie, becoming particularly known for his skill in writimg for wind instruments. His style, quintessentially French, abounds with grace, charm and wit. A prolific composer, he continued to write until his death in 1997, producing more than 200 works in a wide variety of styles. An avowed neoclassicist, he rejected atonality and 'formless wanderings' and is recorded as stating that his goal was to 'give pleasure'.
The Octet is riddled with the quirky sense of humour for which Françaix is famous. Although he self-deprecatingly passed off A Huit as a mere 'stop-gap to fill a programme' for the Vienna Octet, he also in more serious vein dedicated it 'to the revered memory of Franz Schubert'.

Anthony Ritchie
(b 1960)

OCTET, OPUS 129, 'OCTOPUS' (2007)
Premiere performance

1. Octopus

2. Sacrifice

3. Survival of the Small

"Octopus was commissioned for The Amici Ensemble by Donald Armstrong. We are pleased to welcome Anthony Ritchie who is present today for this premiere performance."

Born in Christchurch, Anthony Ritchie is a graduate of Canterbury University, where he completed a Ph D in the music of Bartók. He also studied composition at the Liszt Academy in Hungary. He has held the position of Mozart Fellow at Otago University and Composer in Residence with the Dunedin Sinfonia and since 2003 has been lecturer in composition at Otago University. He has completed over 70 commissioned works, including some for the NZSO and for the NZ International Festival of the Arts.
Octopus is a programmatic work in a single movement, divided into three sections. The first section, subtitled 'Octopus', depicts the fluid and graceful movements of that mysterious sea creature. A quiet flowing melody on violin symbolises the octopus and a second main theme features horn and clarinet accompanied by strings. The gently shimmering mood is interrupted by suggestions of danger, leading to a climax. Following this, the main theme returns in reverse order and a short clarinet solo leads the music directly into the second section, subtitled 'Sacrifice'. After the female octopus mates, she stoically protects her eggs and slowly starves to death in the process. This section is characterised by slowly moving progressions and a rising violin line that eventually leads to a lamenting bassoon solo. The basson solo speeds up and leads to the third section, 'Survival of the Small', in which the tiny octopuses leave their mother to fight for their existence. Sinuous melodic lines contrast with an ominous sounding second idea. A continuous stream of quavers throughout the movement is suggestive of a long journey. Towards the end the music settles harmonically and slowly fades as we hear fragments of the main octopus theme returning on the horn.

Franz Schubert


Adagio - Allegro


Scherzo: Allegro vivace

Andante con variazioni

Menuetto: Allegretto

Andante molto - Allegro

In 1824 Schubert focused his attention almost exclusively on the writing of instrumental music. The results include three of his finest chamber works, the Octet in F and the Quartets in A Major and D minor. The Octet is patterned on the Septet of Beethoven, with the addition of a second violin, and like the Septet has its roots in the tradition of the popular wind serenades or divertimenti of the late 18th century. Such works differed from the symphony in having more movements and a much less serious intent.
The Octet was composed quickly and performed privately, but it was not until three years later that it had its first public performance at a concert to honour Beethoven, shortly after the older composer's death in 1827. Commissioned by Count Ferdinand von Troyer, a clarinettist, it has a prominent clarinet part that frequently rivals that of the violin. It is Schubert's longest work and has been described variously as 'sublime' and 'heavenly'. and as 'a defining masterpiece of early Romanticism'. There is little in it to suggest that Schubert was ill and frequently depressed at the time of composition. In fact, amongst Schubert's output it is one of the sunniest in spirit, full of optimism and serene lyricism. Only occasionally, as in the wistful theme of the Adagio 2nd movement and in the ominous introduction to the last movement, is there any hint of a darker mood.

THE AMICI ENSEMBLE, formed in 1988, is led by NZSO Associate Concertmaster Donald Armstrong. They are committed to performing works of all periods for differing combinations of instruments from the very small to the very large. The performers are mostly principal players with the NZSO and leading chamber musicians on the New Zealand music scene.

DONALD ARMSTRONG returned to New Zealand in 1987 to become Associate Concertmaster of the NZSO. He was Musical Director of the NZ Chamber Orchestra from 1987-2004 and is very much involved with chamber music in New Zealand. During eight years overseas he completed a masters degree in Boston, was Principal Second Violin of the Tivoli Sinfoniorkester in Denmark and Concertmaster of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice in France.

ANDREW THOMSON became the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's Principal Second Violin and is the youngist section principal in 2000. He performs regularly with Stroma and plays the viola for Felix the Quartet.

VYVYAN YENDOLL studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and came to New Zealand in 1962. He was appointed Principal Viola of the NZSO in 1964 and has appeared as soloist with them on numerous occasions. He was a foundation member of the NZ Chamber Orchestra, and has performed in various chamber groups around the country.

ROBERT IBELL has been a member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra since 1993. He is also a member of the Nevine Quartet and the contemporary music group Stroma and teaches at the New Zealand School of Music.

HIROSHI IKEMATSU is Japanese, although he was born in Brazil. He has released three solo CDs and was the Principal Bass of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, before moving to New Zealand to join the NZSO as Principal Bass in 2006.

GREGORY HILL studied at Auckland and Victoria Universities and in the USA. He played in several Australian orchestras and lectured at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music before becoming a principal player in the NZSO in 1987.

PHILIP GREEN joined the NZSO as Co-Principal Clarinet in 2003 having previously played with several Australian and New Zealand orchestras. A graduate of Sydney Conservatorium, he has appeared as soloist with the NZSO and plays with the contemporary music group Stroma.

ROBERT WEEKS played with the Auckland Philharmonia before studying in Melbourne where he performed with various orchestras and ensembles. He then spent several years as Associate Principal Bassoon with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth. He has recently been appointed Associate Principal Bassoon of the NZSO.



Programme of favourite classics by Beethoven, Fauré, Rossini, Dvorák and Bizet
And featuring young violinist -



The Waikanae Music Society gratefully acknowledges
the support of the Lion Foundation,
The NZ Community Trust and the Waikanae Community Board.