I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language. Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the afternoon (Sign)
I then specifically greet you: Roseanne Meo, Chairperson of the APO Board; Barbara Glaser, Chief Executive of the APO; Sir James Wallace, Patron of the APO and renowned patron of the arts; Young Achievers and your Mentors; Distinguished Guests otherwise; Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with great pleasure that Susan and I welcome you to Government House in Auckland, to the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra 2011 Young Achievers recital and thereafter to relax in the ambience of these fine surroundings.
This is the third time we have had the pleasure of hosting the APO Young Achievers Recital here at Government House in Auckland.
It will, however, be the last time as in 10 days’ time, our tenure in the Governor-General role, and therefore as residents of this House and Government House in Wellington, will conclude.
We continue to be impressed by the high standard of musicianship demonstrated by the Young Achievers.
It speaks of more than just talent, because talent will only get you so far in life. It also speaks of dedication and motivation, of setting goals and the downright hard work that is required to achieve them.
The point was well made by American President Calvin Coolidge, who served as President from 1923 to 1928. A quietly spoken man, whose campaigns were noted for never attacking an opponent, Coolidge once said: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Persistence, determination and “pressing on” have also been the hallmark of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra throughout its more than 30 year history. In addition to this recital, it has also been a pleasure to host the APO Summer Matinee here in the beautiful grounds of Government House in Auckland.
More widely, the Orchestra has become a valued cultural asset for the Auckland region and is nationally recognised as a symphony orchestra with a reputation for excellence, engagement and innovation.
I understand its performance of Das Rheingold late last month, the first opera in Richard Wagner’s celebrated Ring Cycle, was well received. The work had not been performed in Auckland in more than a decade with The New Zealand Herald’s reviewer William Dart praising the APO’s performance, saying that the orchestra “emerged triumphant from one of its most demanding calls.”
The APO is to be commended for its contributions to this city’s arts culture. In addition to this recital and the Young Achievers programme, through scholarships, competitions and summer schools, it plays an active role in nurturing the musicians and singers of tomorrow.
That contribution includes directly connecting Aucklanders with their orchestra and with classical music. I understand that earlier this month about 70 community instrumentalists joined the APO for The Big Play In.
Under the baton and mentoring of music director Eckehard Stier, and after 90 minutes of rehearsal, the combined APO-community orchestra played music by Beethoven, Dvorak and Ravel at the Auckland Town Hall.
There would be some purists who might question such an initiative and consider it beneath a symphony orchestra to be so involved.
I could not disagree more. I cannot think of a more wonderful opportunity for community musicians to be part of the sound of a big symphonic orchestra whilst playing alongside professionals and in such a fantastic venue as the town hall. I congratulate the APO for this initiative.
As I mentioned at the outset, this will be our last connection with the APO before we leave office on 23 August. We have very much enjoyed our association with the Orchestra over the last five years and commend it for its work and for its vision of enlivening and enriching the lives of Aucklanders through orchestral music.
And on that note of congratulations I will close in New Zealand’s first language Māori, by offering everyone greetings and wishing you all good health and fortitude in your endeavours. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.