Stroma scores

I first reviewed Stroma at the time of their inception 10 years ago and they remain at the top as a cutting-edge contemporary music ensemble.

This innovative concert certainly reinforced that position.

Under conductor Hamish McKeich these top professional musicians always present challenging contemporary repertoire.

Thomas Ades wrote Living Toys in 1994. It is an intriguing piece with a child-like quality of wonder, scored for piano, winds, brass, strings and varied percussion. It is clever and vaudevillian in character, telling a story, living up to the composer’s descriptive programme note.

Peter Scholes’s 2010 work Relic brings different timbres and a lovely ritualistic quality to his referencing to the inspiration, an Egpytian “artefact” he has on his desk. It is a A smaller ensemble than above with harp, and the strings adding a lovely elegiac quality to the piece.

Local composer Alexandra Hay 2010 work An Island Doesn’t Either also impressed, showing a good grasp of compositional techniques.

Jeroen Speak uses ancient Chinese musical notation in his style, with the six instrumentalists, flute, clarinet, two violins, viola and cello also striking snare drums to add a dramatic interruption. Silk Dialogue (VI) with its unusual musical heritage was different and ear-catching.

Xenakis wrote Thalleïn in 1984. The Greek title means to grow or germinate, and the piece has an organic quality which was at times visceral.

So continuing a tradition of innovation and excellence, Stroma have again scored with a great concert.

— Garth Wilshere, Capital Times