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NZSO performs in 12 New Zealand centres within 16 days

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra teams up with the Rodger Fox Big Band for its most extensive tour of the 2016 NZSO Season – Swing into Spring.

Rodger Fox Big BandFor the first time in the NZSO’s history, the Rodger Fox Big Band will join us for 12 action-packed concerts which merge the worlds of Classical, Jazz, Latin and Big Band. Within 16 days, 82 NZSO and Big Band musicians, and their instruments, will be transported all around New Zealand, from Kerikeri to Invercargill.Rodger Fox Big Band1

Fresh arrangements of famous New Zealand pop songs Royals (made famous by Grammy Award winner Lorde) and Wandering Eye (Fat Freddy’s Drop) will be performed alongside jazz standards A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie) and Take the A Train (Billy Strayhorn) as well as the Suite from Bernstein’s West Side Story and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

This is a tour de force for the jazz and classical music worlds and we are delighted to share this exciting concert series with one of New Zealand’s most popular jazz ensembles, the Rodger Fox Big Band. Founded by charismatic trombone player Rodger Fox in 1973, this acclaimed ensemble has been keeping audiences swinging and dancing for more than 40 years.

Rodger Fox says audiences can expect an exciting and spontaneous mix of music.

“It’s more like a jazz gig than a traditional classical concert,” says Rodger. “The order of works will be decided spontaneously on the night depending on the mood in the concert hall. It’s definitely going to keep you on the edge of your seat.”

Staying true to the Big Band tradition, Rodger Fox has taken two New Zealand classics and put a Big Band spin on them.

“Big Bands have always taken music that’s current and put their own spin on it. They used to play The Beatles for instance… Performing Royals and Wandering Eye is our way of keeping that legacy going, as well as giving this great music another lease of life,” Rodger says.

“This is a ground-breaking concert series. There are new arrangements of popular songs plus a brand new work and we’re taking them all around New Zealand. This has never been done to this level before.”

In March, a new commission by internationally acclaimed composer and arranger Matt Harris arrived in New Zealand. Incorporating the contemporary sounds of bands like Snarky Puppy with the classic swinging big band sound of the Rodger Fox Big Band, The Red Zone was named after the area in Christchurch most affected by the February 2011 earthquake.

“This exciting new work takes the germ of an idea used in a Suite for Big Band and Orchestra composed some 40 years ago and puts it back into something contemporary, much like the rebuilding of the Red Zone area in Christchurch,” says Rodger.

Joining the Band, is the ‘real-deal’ Allen Vizzutti, a US trumpet virtuoso who is lauded internationally for his superb musicianship, easy control and lyrical playing. In keeping with the Big Band’s tradition, he will have a starring role. His performance of Firedance (Jeff Tyzik and Allen Vizzutti) will show off his extraordinary ability as the solos run the gamut of virtuoso technique, including double-tonguing octaves and circular breathing.

New Zealander Hamish McKeich will conduct all 12 concerts. McKeich has forged an impressive international conducting career alongside a passionate loyalty for developing the repertoire of contemporary and experimental music. He served as the NZSO’s Associate Conductor from 2002-2006 and he has given more than 100 world premieres of new works. In 2012, he was awarded a Douglas Lilburn Trust citation for services to New Zealand music.

Enjoy this exciting mix of music in Swing Into Spring, in association with NZSO Principal Partner Ryman Healthcare.

It’s a great night out with The Rodger Fox Band, Allen Vizzutti and your national orchestra, the NZSO.

Rodger Fox Big Band

The Rodger Fox Big Band has performed with some of the biggest names in the jazz and entertainment worlds including Louie Bellson, Bill Reichenbach and Chuck Findley to name a few. The Band has recorded some 36 albums, including live recordings at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Vanguard Studio in New York and most recently they recorded an album at the famed Capitol recording studios in Los Angeles. In 2003, Rodger Fox was made an Officer of the New Zealand order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to music and in 2005 he was honoured by Massey University with an Honorary Doctorate of Music. He won the ‘Tui’ for New Zealand Jazz Recording of the Year in 1981, 2000 and 2012 and he was a finalist in 1984 and 2001.

Allen Vizzutti

A graduate of New York’s Eastman School of Music, Vizzutti is equally at home in both the jazz and classical styles and he has performed with a host of renowned jazz greats including Chick Corea, ‘Doc’ Severinson, Chuck Magione, and Woody Herman. He has played on a wide variety of film scores including Back to the Future and he has appeared with international orchestras including the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.


For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Janina Hanify | Media & Communications Advisor
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra | Te Tira Pūoro o Aotearoa
M +64 275 745 294


The programme will be selected from the following arrangements:

A Night in Tunisia – Dizzy Gillespie, arr. Jeff Tyzik
Fanfare for the Common Man – Aaron Copland, arr. Paul McDonald
Firedance – Allen Vizzutti & Jeff Tyzik
Glide – Allen Vizzutti
Matakana – Nick Granville
North of the Apricots – John Rae
Oblivion – Astor Piazzolla, arr. Allen Vizzutti
Royals – Joel Little & Ella Yelich-O’Connor, arr. Jesper Riis
Take the A Train – Billy Strayhorn, arr. Allen Vizzutti
The Meaning of the Blues – Bobby Troup, arr. Bill Stapleton & Jeff Driskill
The Red Zone – Matt Harris
Touch – Allen Vizzutti
Wandering Eye – Fat Freddy’s Drop, arr. Jesper Riis
West Side Story Suite – Leonard Bernstein, arr. Paul McDonald


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