Formed in 1976 the Air New Zealand Accordion
Orchestra has toured overseas extensively; its objective being to extend
the hand of friendship through music, the international language, and
to promote New Zealand as a country of great beauty and genuine hospitality.
Recognising their contribution to international
friendship and understanding, the New Zealand Government has on three
occasions, honoured these fine young musicians by appointing them New
Zealand Cultural Ambassadors.
The Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra
is a non profit society organised and trained by three directors, Fay-ellen
Schaw, Harley Jones
and Heather Masefield.
Although the players are amateur performers, the orchestra regularly tours
internationally and often performs free of charge in support of local
community projects. This tour has been funded, prior to leaving New Zealand,
by two years of constant fund-raising effort from the young players and
their families, assisted by sponsorship from Air New Zealand and the Government
of New Zealand.
The unique sound of the orchestra, while
having its roots in the folk heritage of New Zealand's diverse cultures,
is very much a sound of today. The fascinating blend of reeds, drums,
glockenspiel, organ, synthesiser, percussion instruments and voices never
fails to appeal, resulting in the Orchestra receiving many standing ovations.
Far from being a traditional accordion band
this youth orchestra of 23 performers (aged 14 to 23 years) presents a
lively program of popular, traditional and classical music. The growing
public appeal of the Orchestra can be seen in its invitation to perform
for British Royalty and at the closing of the 1990 commonwealth Games
before a crowd of 35,000 people.
The Orchestra's music program is selected
on a "something for everybody" basis; well known symphonic classics,
popular hits of yesterday and today, evergreens from the big band era,
jazz, polkas, medleys of traditional American tunes, music from modern
stage shows and original New Zealand music. Compiled into a variety program
of - narration, humour, dance, audience participation, solo and orchestral,
vocal and instrumental music; the result is not so much a concert but
more a lively entertainment "show."
Travelling with the orchestra on international
tours is New Zealand composer and arranger Gary Daverne. He has arranged
much of the orchestra's program and has composed a number of original
works for the orchestra including "Pocket Overture", "Caprice"
as well as several popular ballads that describes our way of life and
the beauty of our country.
In 1979 the Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra
began its history of international concert performance with a three week
tour of the U.S.A., performing in Los Angeles, Miami, Springfield, St
Louis, Kansas City and Salt Lake City. This tour was a tremendous success
and the orchestra received a standing ovation at every concert.
The 2nd International Concert Tour was in
1981. Countries toured were Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany,
Austria, England and Singapore. A highlight of this tour was the invitation
performance as part of the prestigious Vienna Music Festival.
The 3rd International Concert Tour in 1984
was to the Western U.S.A. and Canada. The Orchestra visited Hawaii, Los
Angeles, Vancouver, Prince George, Jasper, Banff, Calgary, Missoula, Coeur
d'Alene and Seattle.
The 4th International Concert Tour in 1986
was to Hawaii, Germany, Switzerland, and England where they performed
22 concerts receiving highly complimentary newspaper reviews and many
Their 5th International Goodwill Concert
Tour, was to Australia, Singapore, the People's Republic of China and
Hong Kong. After performing extensively at the World Expo '88 in Brisbane
the Orchestra was greatly honoured to be the first foreign accordion orchestra
to perform in the People's Republic of China, a country where the accordion
is one of the most popular instruments and very much an instrument of
the people. Performances included full concert programs in the Beijing
and Shanghai Concert Halls, each fully televised as well as in Xian and
Canton. The tour concluded with several concerts and television appearances
in Hong Kong.
The 6th International Goodwill Concert Tour
began with a guest performance at the Accordion Federation of north America's
annual Music Festival in Los Angeles, receiving two standing ovations.
On leaving Los Angeles the Orchestra travelled through the States of California,
Nevada, Utah and Arizona, performing 22 concerts.
For the 7th International Goodwill Concert
Tour the Orchestra performed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern
Italy. At each concert, the orchestra received at least one standing ovation,
an amazing result for Europe where such acknowledgement is quite rare.
The finale of the tour was a TV appearance on NDR Hamburg TV "Aktuellen
Schaubude", a Friday night live variety show.
On their 8th International Goodwill Concert
Tour, the orchestra performed in Niagara, Albany, Mt Vernon, Manhattan,
Staten Island, United Nations, N.Z. Embassy Washington, Hershey, Harrisburg,
Boston, Hudson, Saranac Lake and Toronto.
For the 9th International Goodwill Concert
Tour the Orchestra performed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in Kirchbery,
Boblingen, Baden Baden, Vevey, Lodrino, Ebikon, Albisrieden, Saalfelden,
Munchen, Hochenschwand, Rheinfelden, Waldshut, Pforzheim, Kuppenheim and
of the 9th International Goodwill Concert Tour
Home | Recordings
and Sound files | Past orchestras