JUNE Off to China this time to Chengdu to the 6th International Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Along with the latest incarnation of Tumeke Ki Tamaki, Hemi and I were delighted to attend this festival alongside groups representing Japan, Australia, Brazil, Iran, Spain these were just the ones in our hotel, all of us taking our unique culture to share. Off course the highlight was the visit to the Panda Park.
MAY Recording with Charles Royal of his piece composed for violin and piano. The recording is for TV series Artefac which featured the Michael Parekowha carved piano that was commissioned for a Biennelle Exhibition in Venice.
Los Angeles here we come. A stunning gig at the Los Angeles convention centre for Education NZ Plenary presentation at the NAFSA international conference. Terri of Verve Events had engaged Tumeke and me to play at the Education NZ National conference last year so we were both delighted that they wanted to tell my story at this international conference.
Waihau delight. This special wedding ceremony for Miriama and Chris held in the isolated church in the Bay of Islands. To get there required a early morning flight to Rotorua then 3 hour car journey to the coast. Beautiful scenery along with delightful conversation with Richard (driver) made the early start fun
FEBRUARY Clemintine’s amazing Blenheim Winery ceremony. I was so impressed with this bride who had tickets booked on Soundzair within 24 hours of confirmation of players plus had purchased online the special music Home for her bridal march.
See our special green room outside the Luxloos!
Orchestra Wellington started the year with a bang as part of Porirua City Council Summer programme. A collaboration with Virtuoso Strings, cinematic music from Stars Wars, Lord of the Rings, Opera arias and Jazz themes delighted the hardcore audience who turned up in the rain with their umbrella's, tarpaulins and thermos flasks.
A glorious magical wedding celebration scene held at Western Park Auckland. Truly a scene out of a fairy woodland glade for Jess and Dan. They chose the park for their ceremony as it was their hang out spot for the last 4 years.
A truly lovely farewell to 2016 was Kelly and Ben's marriage held at the beautiful Davenport Naval Base Auckland, just after Christmas. Ben's family and I have history!! Ben's mothers publication Spacifika interviewed me over 10 years ago. Anne had promised herself that if any of her children were to get married I would play at the wedding. Well Ben is all grown up and has had 3 weddings. One in Vietnam where Kelly comes from, one in Auckland registry office and the 3rd a wonderful family and friends ceremony in Davenport.
NOVEMBER: Another collaboration with Terri van- Schooten for the Alzheimers NZ conference at the TSB Arena. Performing with Tumeke with new personnel member Tim Whitta we played well known Maori waiata to a very enthusiastic audience.
Lester Hall - what a exciting discovery to see this artists latest work pop up on my FB page. It was love at first sight with his Pania (Blue Lady). I emailed him immediately to request that I must have her. To my delight while browsing at Ora Gallery, I saw his work on display there. I was excited to learn that Lester was coming to town to promote a Colabronation Exhibition with fellow artist Paora Tiatoa. It was with great pleasure to play at this exhibition and take Pania home!
Mayoral Inauguration- Haere mai Justin. What an honour to be part of this very special ceremony at the MFC. I was delighted that Justin Lester had won this position and am really looking forward to his leadership of our city. Just three weeks earlier I had performed at the Farewell celebration for the outgoing Mayor Celia Wade- Brown at Te Marae Te Papa. It was lovely to see many familiar faces to send Celia on her way. Haere ra Celia.
OCTOBER: 80th Birthday Party held at the Lowry Bay Yacht Club. An intimate gathering of happy family and friends to celebrate this milestone occasion. Playing at Old St Pauls Cathedral always engenders a sense of awe in me. This occasion for the NZ Law Conference Dinner was quite different as It was the first time I had seen the church set up as a dinning room. The pews have been fitted so they can be turned - it looked very elegantly ethereal.
SEPTEMBER: A fusion of many creative talents collaborated for the Resene Total Colour Awards held at Shed 6. The atrium was beautifully decorated with potted punga and harakeke plants and along with subdued lighting set up a wonderful welcoming stage for me to perform on. A gorgeous Resene paint splattered tutu was specially made for the event. It is now part of my wardrobe!
AUGUST: Royal New Zealand Ballet production of Giselle was a hit with audiences. Running alongside the production is a Education programme Ballet in Schools Workshops. I was fortunate to be part of a trio with fellow colleagues, Moira on Clarinet and Brenton on Cello. We presented workshops in secondary schools in Wellington, Tawa and Upper Hutt. It was fulfilling to witness the progress in a hour of coaching from RNZ Ballet Master Pagan to see the students creating beautifully elegant forms that they would see when they attend the Giselle shows. It gave them a sense of achievement and also appreciation of how dedicated the dancers are.
Its always a pleasant surprise and blessing to get repeat work from a client so I was delighted when Terri van- Schooten from Verve Events contacted me to create a Mini Cultural Symphony for Education NZ conference in Auckland. Along with Tumeke kapa haka my story was delivered to a very attentive audience. I saw many of the attendees at the airport the next day and they told me how blown away they were with our performance.
JULY- SEPTEMBER Wellington Light Opera’s production of The Merry Widow was a joy to play as it’s full of gorgeous melodies and waltzes. We played to almost full houses in Southwards Museum, Wellington, Palmerston North and Napier. Again Hugh Mc Millan was the MD and as usual it was a joy to play under his encouragement and appreciation of his orchestra.
JUNE: Mozarts glorious Magic Flute was NBR Opera’s first production of the year. A highlight for me always, is when Maestro Wynne Davies is in town to conduct the opera season. Following directly on it’s heels was Orchestra Wellingtons Subscription Concert 1 with Beethovens 9 symphony as it’s headline act. This was another successful collaboration with the Orpheus Choir.
MAY: Sea Symphony by Vaughn Williams not often performed work was the first collaboration with Orchestra Wellington and Orpheus Choir for the year. A great conducting job by our colleague, timpanist Brett Stewart who is now the Musical Director of Orpheus. Tommy’s Real Estate Ball was a very glamous event held at Te Papa. I must admit it is great seeing everyone elegantly turned out as it is such a special occasion.
APRIL: I had a delightful time playing for the Kapiti Chorale production of Hiawatha MD Conductor Eric Sidoti. This production was made even more special by having the composer Robert Hanson who travelled from his home in America to give expert guidance to us.
MARCH: It was lovely to be contacted by Jan Mc Andrews for the IPENZ conference Dinner at the MFC. Jan hired me some years ago when she was with TranzPower so I was delighted that she had decided I was going to be the surprise act for the dinner. Spent a busy day juggling time and distance between the CubaDuppa Festival for Orchestra Wellington and a beautiful Wedding ceremony for Ange and Rob at their glorious family home in the Ohariau Valley. Institute of IT Professionals, NZ expo conference held at the TSB Arena where a cameo stage was created in the stands along with mood lighting, dry ice and drapery provided a impressive back drop to perform in.
A stunning day out at Waikanae for Jamie and Anne's Party, "great time party for friends", with a Spanish dress up theme. Fun times of spontaneous duo with Sharon on accordion and a unique rendition of Lonely Bull by the Fabulous Bull Trio- Jamie on vocals, Elena on violin and Chris Parkin on air trumpet.
ORCHESTRA WELLINGTON opened the year with it's annual Opera in the Park concert in Nelson. Soloists included Anna Leese, Gerald Holt, Jackie Clarke, Modern Maori Quartet and Dave Dobbin. A beautiful hot balmy night with fabulous music and singing. Alas all too soon shortly after the final notes were played and a mouth full of wine supped, we were whisked off to the airport to fly back to our fun city Wellington before the midnight curfew clocked in.
WAITANGI DAY 2016: Another successful performance at Festival of the Elements- Te Raraparahau Park Porirua. With Tumeke kapa haka (Hemi Ruru pictured) we had such a blast entertaining the happy crowd.
I also performed with Virtuoso Strings in the arena to a very appreciative audience.
The opening of the Chinese Cultural Centre was a very special event complete with red carpet and dancing lions. The centre celebrates the importance of Chinese culture through performance and art, strengthening cultural ties between our two countries. After speeches given by our Mayor Celia Wade Brown, Minister of Culture and Heritage Paul James, Director of CCC Mr Guo Zhonguang and Vice Minister of China Ministry of Culture Mr Ding Wei, we were treated to beautiful traditional music played by the Guangdong National Orchestra of China who also played Po Karekareana and delightful entertainment by the local Chinese tamariki (children). We were then taken on a tour of the centre to view the large exhibition of contemporary art by leading Chinese artists throughout China. A very exciting venture particularly given the work I have done in China so I am looking forward to more cultural collaborations.
What a blessing -my 4th gig for Buddy Mikaere of Mana Taiao Events this time for the Tauranga Moana Rangatahi Awards. It was such an honour to share this special celebration of Maori Excellence and Achievement with these hard working passionate youngsters. They all received beautifully carved taonga with their personal inscriptions. And talk about being spoilt by Buddy- spotted a super launch at my front door-at the luxurious Trinity Wharf Hotel- lol.
A very exhausting but exhilarating Tchaikovsky 5th Symphony by Orchestra Wellington at the Michael Fowler Centre, we were treated to another superb performance by Michael Houston of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto.
Wedding with a difference. Jane and Damian's wedding at Waikanae Beach. It was a perfect sunny day the scene was beautifully and delightfully simple, guests in pink (for the ladies) and black (for the men) flip flops, an aisle of petals leading to a driftwood alter. When I asked one of the guests if the bride had arrived (as the setting was so casual I thought the bride was probably the girl dressed in orange?) the guest pointed and this was the scene that greeted me....lol.
NOVEMBER: A Very successful gig for the Chartered Accountants Long Service Awards Cocktail Function at the Wellington City Gallery. As they had provided a stage especially for me the manager told me I should be demanding and add "personal stage" to my technical ryder.
OCTOBER: Event sponsor Robert Baldock (formally Westside Producitons) whom I have worked for many times contacted me to open Porirua City 50th Anniversary Awards Dinner. Robert had themed the Te Rauparaha Arena to look like a contemporary New York Club. I was positioned on a stage in the middle of a luminous bar, apparently the effect was stunning as the guests walked through a cloud tunnel into the "Club". A fabulous evening showcasing Porirua with video chats from loyal locals, fashion show including new range from Suzanne Tamaki, lyrical entertainment from Russell Harrison and divine gastric delights from Ruth Pretty Catering- the vegan menu to die for!
SEPTEMBER: A rousing finale performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Gondoliers in Napier at the Municipal Theatre bringing closure to a successful touring season starting in August with shows in Lower Hutt, Southwards Kapiti, Whanganui, Wellington and Napier. It was a pleasure to work with Hugh McMillan again (musical director/ conductor) whose humility and respect for the orchestra gave me a great sense of joy.
JULY: Superb concert at Meow for the Wellington Jazz Club. Nicks band with Strings Attached! Very cool string compositions by Nick mainly about his favourite Wellington haunts.
GRAND GALA VARIETY CONCERT- Opening of the Gisborne Opera House. Of Rongowhaakata descent it was an honour to be star billed for this prestigious sold out event. Fellow artists Mere Boynton, my cousin Camille Te Nahu,her husband Stu French and son Sonny, Gretchen Dunsmore, Sweet Life Quartet, Alana Sargent and Waihirere Kapa Haka thrilled the packed auditorium. The renovated building is awesome, great acoustics, looks very plush and even back stage where the performers hang out is plush. I had the good fortune to be hosted by Shona Egan one of the Opera House trustees. Her whare was so beautiful and warm I didn’t want to leave. Everyone involved in this project have done an amazing job and from a performers perspective all the technicals went smoothly, big thanks to Jane Egan and Tim. This was no mean feat as this concert was the first time all the equipment, stage theatrics etc were used- it all went without a hitch….. GREAT JOB GISBORNE!!
JUNE: SCHOOLS VISIT- A wonderful visit to Cullinane College Wanganui- I was greeted with a formal powhiri very ably performed by the students giving me a chance to mihimihi them. I spent a fulfilling day visiting the Music Department whose tutor Marco Perry was so enthusiastic about the students work. It was exciting to work alongside these students and to pass on the all important love and joy of what it is we are doing. It was heartwarming for me to see the work that Te Ngakau O Te Awa (kapa haka) had done on the item we presented together. It was a challenge for them to work in such a contemporary way as individuals, as well as a group, they achieved this with great success, testimony to their skills and their tutor Kamaka Manuel. Cullinane is an amazing nurturing community. I was aware that students were happy, had pride in themselves and their work and the teachers loved their students - a recipe for success, all held together by Principal Kevin Shore and his team. It was an honour for me to be at their kura and experience the wonderful skills and joy these young people have to offer the world. I am very grateful for the manaakitanga extended to me while I was there, especially the support from Aunty Carol the kura’s kaumatua mentor.
MAY: HITECH AWARDS TSB ARENA- An exceptional opportunity to work for Lauren Taylor Events at this high end event. Along with a superb creative team of Flying Pictures and Multi Media and working as a duo with Charles Davenport cello we stunned the audience with a magnificent music, lazer show.
ORCHESTRA WELLINGTON CONCERT - TCHAIKOVSKY 1 & RACHMANINOV piano concerto with Michael Houston as soloist was a stunning first subscription concert for ORCHESTRA WELLINGTON, for the year. It was well attended and received excellent reviews.
ORCHESTRA WELLINGTON enjoyed a successful season of La Cerentola Opera and for all of us it was such a pleasure to work with the Maestro Wynn Davies again.
APRIL: WEDDING Annette and Johns wedding afforded a great opportunity for Simply Fantastic Trio to play together after a break of 3 years. It didn’t take long to dust off the repertoire plus learn a lot of new Latin tunes at the request of the Bride &Groom. John & Annette told me that they remembered me from playing years ago at a wedding in Martinborough. They had decided if they ever got married I would play at their wedding - well 13 years later they did and I did!! My lovely friend Verna Curry (http://www.standinginthelightcelebrations.co.nz/) was the celebrant and MC.
MARCH: GALA DINNER with Tumeke kapa haka, Mico Plumbing gala dinner in Tauranga for their suppliers was a highlight. Many were stunned by our brand of contemporary Maori/European performance. It was great to work with the Dynamics team (AV production company) again and Adrienne from kept everything running smoothly. Staying at the gorgeous Trinity Wharf Hotel on the Tauranga Harbour reminded me of how blessed I AM.
I also visited IRONGATE SCHOOL for a performance while I was in the Bay. It was very moving for me to be supported by my cousins Carleen Te Nahu and Laurie Te Nahu for the powhiri. Our kaikaranga was Whaea Te Rito. The te reo and tikanga exhibited by some of the senior students was very impressive. The teachers are doing excellent work here. Although my time at Irongate was short the students participated with enthusiasm and applauded with great gusto. I felt my message to live your dream and that music is a viable career choice was understood by the students.
A very Exciting time in Napier for Festival Opera production ELIXER OF LOVE - I was delighted to be invited to be part of this opera season. With and excellent line up of soloists the season was a hit. It was a delight to work with conductor / MD Jose Aparicio and to learn of the work that he and his wife Anna Pierard are doing with training the young voices in the Bay with their project Prima Volta. I had the great fortune to stay with my lovely friend Kerry Kitone whom I met when she organised me to play at a Amnesty International Concert in 2005. We have been great friends since then.
FEBRUARY: WAITANGI DAY celebrations with Tumeke kapa haka: Festival of the Elements at Te Raparahau park Porirua- a wonderfully happy family occasion with lots of great entertainment. I spotted a family of 4 violinists all members of Virtuoso Strings that I had performed with in November. They were excited to see a violinist on the stage and rushed at me excitedly to talk and were awestruck to realise that could be them on stage in a few years (if they keep practising!!)
2015 is looking GREAT. I was so excited with my first outing with GARAGE LATINO 10 January at Meow- a band that was started by Xavier Quilambaqui (cameraman who worked on the first Maori TV documentary on my life story) It is with much pleasure to be connected with Xavier again and playing in his band. The music is melodic, rhythmic, passionate and so so much fun to play-we had the crowd rocking!!! Happy start to 2015
2015 is looking very positive with quite a few confirmed gigs- I am Blessed.
To leave 2014 with a bang Orchestra Wellington will present a New Years Eve Concert at the waterfront with guests Tim Beveridge and Stephanie Paris singing Movie themes and James Bond songs. I hope Stephanie sings Goldfinger!!! At the midnight hour we will be treated to a spectacular fireworks display put on by the Wellington City Council.
My friend Richard Tait has booked me as a surprise element for his parents very special 50th Wedding Celebration in Waikanae.
A 70th birthday party on Sweet Georgia launch cruising on the Wellington Harbour for Peter who came back to Wellington especially to celebrate this milestone with kiwi whanau and friends. It was wonderful to see Peter and Alison again as I played at their house warming party in Oriental Bay many years ago. I was very grateful to be asked to play for them again for Peter's special birthday.
DECEMBER: Not many christmas gigs since the recession so I was delighted to be booked by Dave Clarke Design, who celebrated a successful year with his staff and clients at Shed 5 in grand style.
Orchestra Wellington’s final Subscription concert for the year had as it’s centre piece Carmina Burana which was heartily acclaimed by the ecstatic audience.
A magical WOW opening cameo for FoodStuffs North Island 2014 Awards at the TSB Arena in Wellington. This performance was complete with a outstanding otherworldly lazer light show that enhanced my performance. I was most grateful to be asked back yet again to celebrate Foodstuffs annual event, along with the amazing creative team of Promote Events, Multi Media and Flying Pictures! See the amazing 4 camera video - I was stunned to see what it looked like from the audience point of view. All I saw was the arena in deep blackness with an amazingly mesmeric light tunnel swirling in front of me that I had to fully concentrate on not walking off my platform into Neverland!! Music by the awesome composer Jo Blankenburg- Illumielle he is my favourite composer now.
Video courtesy of Jeff O'Donnell Flying Pictures
An opportunity to support and play Purple Haze with the recently formed Virtuoso Strings in their end of year concert. These are children from the wider Porirua area who have been given the opportunity to learn string instruments. This opportunity is provided free of charge by my dear friends Elizabeth Syned and Craig Utting. Virtuoso Strings has attracted funding support from many local businesses including the Wellington and Porirua City Councils. This funding is used to buy instruments for the 60 students so that everyone has their own instrument. I was warmed by the proud parental community that supported these children. This support is most important as it is still considered a somewhat weird choice to play a violin or cello. The concert drew a large audience from the local community as well as WCC Mayor Celia Wade Brown, Minister Chris Finlayson and MP Chris Fafue.
Royal New Zealand Ballet season of a Christmas Carol took us into November. A novelty aspect was hearing the Ballet dancers singing something that I thought would be rather difficult while dancing. They sounded great.
New Zealand Opera season of Don Giovanni begins the rehearsal period with Orchestra Wellington. We were blessed to be working with the superb conductor Wynn Davies.
OCTOBER: A stunning gig for Farmlands 2014 Awards (formerly Federated Farmers) at Shed 10 in Auckland. I was so grateful to be afforded the opportunity to work with Tumeke kapahaka again. Our opening number was a hit with all those present. We were accommodated at the Mercure Hotel, apart from the superb rooms it is home to Vue Restaurant serving delicious food and affording us a magnificent view of the waterfront.
Violin perambulations was a new experience, for the Australian Fire Fighters and Emergency Services Conference at Te Papa. The guest were ultra friendly and really appreciative coming up with very interesting music requests as the evening wore on.
SEPTEMBER: Sam and Muki’s wedding at the Pines in Wellington- gets special mention. In 2002 I played at the L’Oreal Hair Fashion Awards. Muki was one of the hairdressers who attended. Apparently she was so impressed with my performance that she decided then and there that if she were ever to marry I would play at her wedding. 12 years later having courted with her darling Sam, he proposed. Muki charged him with the job of finding me. I was amazed at the scope of his research and his sleuthing skills - he knew everything about me. He uncovered every interview, newspaper clippings I didn’t know existed,TV programs, publicity shots, paparazzi shots etc. I was very impressed! I played Muki up the isle to the very beautiful 1000 years by Christina Perri.
AUGUST: Brought a terrible bout of the flu which laid me up for 3 weeks resulting in having to cancel work all through the month.
JULY: I have just finished recording You raise me Up for Ross and Jasons' wedding, to use at their rehearsal on Friday. The wedding is being held at Windy Ridge in the Waikato a new venue for me. I am delighted to be part of this very special occasion and also grateful for the opportunity to visit my family who live in Hamilton.
To celebrate Matariki ( Maori New Year) I am delighted to be joining fellow artists Lisa Tomlins, Toni Huata, Georgina Beyer, Brannigan Kaa and other Wellington diva's for this special Menagerie Production. To see this wonderful line up, do go down to the Fringe Bar, 8pm Saturday 28 June, Allen St, Courtenay Place.
Orchestra Wellington's 2nd Subscription concert tour is coming up in the 3rd week of June. With works by Haydn, Mahler and Mozart. The orchestra will deliver this programme in Masterton and Kapiti as well as in Wellington. So as you can see June is a busy month.
Rehearsals begin for the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society production of the Operetta The Mikado with performances in Lower Hutt, Palmerston North, Whanganui, Kapiti and Wellington during August and September.
JUNE: Another successful gig for a favourite client, Orange Productions who hired me to entertain at the Property Council NZ Awards held at the Viaduct Event Centre Auckland. It was rather challenging negotiating perambulating space through the 1200 guests however the guests and I really enjoyed the experience, particularly when I was joined by two Maori warriors as they led the guests through to the spectacular banquet dinner.
APRIL: Maori TV production Te Ihi Kahurangi with a interview segment with Elena, has screened http://www.maoritelevision.com/tv/shows/te-iti-kahurangi-journey-success/S01E009/te-iti-kahurangi-journey-success-series-1-episode-Starts 17.15 mins in.
MARCH: Chris Parkin and Kathy Tipler's wedding, at Ruth and Paul Pretty's divine residence Springfield, Te Horo. After a early morning meeting with Chris, along with my trusty violin many tunes later, we confirmed Pachelbel Canon to be played while the registry was being signed which is Chris' favourite classical item.
FEBRUARY: Elena was delighted to be asked to play at her beautiful niece Alisha Nauta and Max Bile wedding at the Milk Station Otaki - it was such a wonderful happy happy occasion.
MAY 2013: my new website designed by James Whitta was launched sporting a new look Me.
I admit to being a little anxious as the Elena “Mohawk” brand was a powerful image and marketing tool. However my anxiety has been totally allayed as many of my regular clients continue to book or tender my services.
Following are some of the latest gigs I’ve done to date with the new look.
MAY : Opening for Pride in Print Awards TSB Arena Wellington. I was very nervous at the first production meeting with my regular client Sue Archibald- Promote Ltd as this was my first No Mohawk gig however Sue didn't seem to notice my No Hair Look or bat an eye lid or cancel me - whew. When we had selected the music Secret Violin based on one of Bach's Cello Suites, a sound track had to be created which was superbly done by Takumi Motogawa in his home studio with me experimenting with some violin riffs and Tak doing everything else. Take a look at this Wow opening by a great creative team. Video courtesy Multi Media.
NZ School of Music production “From Verdi to Wagner”
JUNE: Phantom of the Opera with Wellington Musical Theatre and Orchestra Wellington. A stunning season with the awesome Chris Crowe as the Phantom. Meetings showcase Celebrity Speakers, Auckland.
JULY: Photo shoot
AUGUST: Making History competition run by Positively Wellington Tourism & Tourism New Zealand. One of the first 9 Same Sex Marriages in New Zealands held at Te Papa– won by a Gay couple from New Castle Australia. I am currently being filmed for Maori Television series Ti Ihi Kahurangi, a documentary showcasing Maori success. To air next year.
Show Me Wellington, Opening of Shed 6 Wellington’s stunning new waterfront venue that was once a freezing cold dilapidated draughty old shed where many of us musicians and artists used to rehearse.
SEPTEMBER: Sheryll -Lee 50th Birthday - Havelock North, Jane Eyre Musical -supporting Year 1 & 2 students of Whitireia Performing Arts Musical Theatre.
OCTOBER: 150 Angus World Forum Rotorua – Celebrating 150 years since the arrival of Angus cattle to New Zealand. A stunning gig where I had the privilege to perform with the Manawatu Pipe Band.
NOVEMBER: Raising Maori Investment Conference- Tauranga. I was very appreciative of being invited by Buddy Mikaere of Mana Taio Events (for a second time) to showcase my work at this conference dinner. I declared to the audience that the Arts and Culture sectors in New Zealand are worthy of their investment.