Auckland Philharmonia, June 2023

William Dart review: Simple Gifts worth remembering

William Dart, NZ Herald, 18.6.2023 (excerpts)


Thursday night’s Simple Gifts must go down as one of the most memorable of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s concerts, a glowing testament to the vitality and vision of its programming.

To complement the clear, open-air vistas of Copland’s Appalachian Spring with the urban moodscape of the American’s Quiet City was impressive; farewelling us with the fairy-tale dazzlement of Ravel’s Mother Goose, even more so.

Best of all, however, was that the evening included a trifecta for our times — a woman conductor and woman soloist tackling a flute concerto by the legendary Kaija Saariaho; a coming together made almost unbearably poignant by her death earlier this month.


Hoitenga and conductor Elena Schwarz revealed an extraordinary simpatica partnership here while, elsewhere, the young maestra effortlessly asserted her individuality and authority.