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Music in Mercury Bay - variety, quality, creativity,and strong support.

By Pauline Stewart.

Hula Open Mic brings the musicians and the crowds.

Hula Café sits on Albert Street just a few metres from Buffalo Beach Road. It’s open six days a week for that morning coffee and breakfast and the sunbathes customers on winter mornings. Opening hours extend to brunch and lunch with winter hours being 7.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Saturday. On weekend evenings, Hula offers music and dining in its café restaurant with entertainment in the outdoor semi- enclosed garden area. Live music is a feature at Hula. Gabrielle, who owns Hula along with his partner, ………, is himself a musician in Corrosive Moses, a very popular local band.

Saturday night, 13 May was a clear, cold evening and saw Hula’s garden restaurant and bar packed, with patrons enjoying the open mic entertainment led by Noah………..

Every seat and alternative place to sit was taken. A brazier warmed the front spectators and added a toasty visual experience to everyone’s enjoyment of the music. Sound engineer, Bong … was busy meeting the requirements of each performer. No tension, just relaxed people enjoying their drink, their food, the company and above all, the music.

Complimentary similarities to Monkey House.

To The Informer, this had a similar feel to the regular Wednesday night Open Mic evenings at Monkey House in Coghill Street - the setting of course was different being largely outdoor but the level of popularity at Hula was the same as the Monkey House - both venues were packed with a variety of visitors to Whitianga and local music lovers plus local musicians; and as with Monkey House, Hula sent out a clear message conveying that comfortable recognition of the talent and skills so obvious in the musicians and singers, plus an appreciation of their music style -many of the lyrics and tunes original. Hanako Liggins at Wednesday night Open Mic at the Monkey House is assisted by maestro, Stuart Pedley on the guitar, making her fine original vocal presentation, a duo.

Music and Lukes Kitchen.

There was a great vibe at Luke’s Kitchen, Kuaotunu on Sunday night, Mother’s Day. A large community chatted around tables and moved to different conversations with a great menu of pizzas, a host of different platters and super service by the staff. Andy Hopping’s singing and instrumental musicianship added lots of heart and joy. Now and again others joined him with vocals - such was the nature of the evening.

A young surfer from Raglan touring with his ‘lady’ in their campervan said, “This is terrific, we need to stay here for a few extra days.”

Classic music made for a full house. - NZ Trio.

Just as the entertainment at Hula was cranking up on Saturday night, 13 May, another music event, 400 metres away, had just concluded.

New Zealand Trio had come from Auckland to present a very beautiful, experience of classical music to a packed house at St Andrew’s by the Sea from 4.00pm to 6.00pm

NZTrio is New Zealand’s best chamber music ensemble, and one couldn’t erase the thought of how fortunate Mercury Bay was to host this trio locally; Whitianga being a scheduled stop as part of NZ Trio’s national tour to celebrate the trio’s 21st birthday was an accomplishment. The community church’s grand piano is the centrepiece for such a performance. The cello and violin travel wth the chamber music trio but not so a grand piano. NZTrio’s tour programme features the music of past and present masters. The music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s piano trio in B-flat major from 1876 opened the concert but at the heart of the programme was Johannes Brahms’ remarkable second piano trio. For the middle section of the programme, we were treated to a symphony by New Zealand contemporary composer, Gareth Farr, titled Forbidden Colours written in 2015.

A little about the three members of this outstanding, nationally acclaimed trio.

Amalia Hall - Violinist: Concertmaster of Orchestra Wellington, Amalia has widespread acclaim for her ability to move audiences with her “sumptuous and sweet tone” she has natural velvet in her playing. At the age of nine, Amalia made her debut with the Auckland Philharmonia; by the end of her teens, she had won all of the major national awards in New Zealand and has further won multiple laureate prizes at important international competitions. Amalia plays on the “Baron Knoop” Vincenzo Rugeri violin from c. 1700, generously on loan from a private benefactor.

Ashley Brown - Cellist: Ashley is one of New Zealand’s leading soloists, collaborators, chamber musicians and recording artists. He is a founder of NZTrio and a passionate advocate for New Zealand music. His musical curiosity has led him from an Artist Diploma at Yale to a Doctor of Musical Arts exploring the collaborative relationship between composer and performer. Ashley plays the 1762 William Forster ‘Liberte’ cello. Somi Kim -Pianist: South Korean born, New Zealand pianist, Somi Kim, has established herself as one of today’s most versatile and accomplished young pianists. Somi is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Performance and Master of Arts with Distinction. Somi is sought after as a chamber musician, song accompanist and répétiteur. She made her debut with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2021 performing the Gershwin Piano Concerto.

The performance and the music of NZ Trio delighted and inspired everyone. Their encore at the end was most generous. One concert goer exclaimed. I couldn’t stop toe tapping. It brought back so many memories. I used to play some of those pieces (a music teacher, no doubt).”

Our thanks to local concert organiser, Sharyn Morcom for her ‘instrumental’ part in enabling Whitianga to be a venue for the NZ Trio to perform.

Caption: A warm ambience at Hula last Saturday ngiht.


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