During the winter school holidays, a group of MSE players including myself travelled to the south island of New Zealand to visit Dunedin and Christchurch.
During our stay in Dunedin, we were billeted by host families who had children attending the string program at the university. Together we attended workshops and masterclasses at the University of Otago run by Kevin Lefohn and other university staff. This culminated in a joint concert at the university’s historic hall, with orchestral works and solos by members of both orchestras.
In Dunedin, we also had some time for sightseeing, including a wildlife tour of penguin rookeries and fur seal colonies, as well as the extraordinary sight of an albatross in flight. We also took a ride on the Taieri Gorge Railway; a spectacular train ride through gorges west of Dunedin, visited Larnach Castle and indulged at New Zealand’s own Cadbury Chocolate Factory.
A short plane flight over the southern alps saw us in Christchurch, on the Canterbury Plains set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. We attended a very high standard concert given by a youth string ensemble in Christchurch and then were privileged to have a masterclass from their conductor, Steve Larson. He was a very impressive teacher and we all benefited greatly from his astute advice.
From Christchurch, we headed north west on a coach to experience both snow and hot thermal springs in the same day! After snowballing each other until some could take it no longer, we headed to the thermal pools to warm up. It seemed ridiculous to be running around in bathers while freezing our feet on the concrete and then jumping into pools of 46 degrees Celsius. It was a magic location with steam rising from the pools blurring the scenery of snowy mountains behind.
After six days of music and fun, the most common comment made by the travellers was that “it should have been longer”.