Youth Philharmonic Tauranga Part I: please put your daughter on the stage Mrs W.


The Youth Philharmonic Tauranga needs more player members. Not your usual instruments but things like oboes, bassoons, brass, a cello, a bass player and of course as many other “strings” as they can get their orchestral hands on!

The Youth Philharmonic Tauranga awaits its conductor…

It’s mid-July in Greerton Village Tauranga and I’m sitting outside Le Chat Noir with my tea and savoury brioche waiting for ARTbop photographer Lee Switzer and the Bay of Plenty Symphonia Conductor, Justus Rozemond. Why – in May I’d been to the Graham Young Theatre, Tauranga Boys College to hear the resurrected Youth Philharmonic Tauranga play.

In May I tell people the Gods have been punishing me for being such a happy little soul – I’ve a lingering cough from the third bad cold I’ve had in weeks. I’m terrified I’m going to be trapped in the theatre irritating the gathering crowd of parents, relatives and community who’ve come to hear this predominantly youth-played classical music programme.

Predominantly” – well at present there aren’t enough “youth” playing the diversity of instruments needed to fill the YPT so there are some adult ringins. Things have to start somewhere and following my long-held view of starting and improving as you go along – the Bay of Plenty Symphonia and its conductor Justus Rozemond have re-form the YPT.

Bassoonist Henrietta Davenport and Saxophonist Catherine Van Pelt before the concert performance

One of Symphonia volunteers is organising the evening – I ask to be introduced to some of the young players. I meet two delightful young women – Catherine Van Pelt, Saxophonist and Henrietta Davenport, Bassoonist. They background me about the earlier 2 day workshop and performance. So, this is the first concert but second performance of the YPT. Why do they play those instruments – “they like the sound” but both admit it’s hardwork and dedication. I suspect there is a great deal of parental support as the Wednesday weekly practice sessions move around the area.

While I’m in the foyer charging my phone – yes, I forgot to charge my “camera” a people mover from a senior’s facility opens its rear doors and down come a wheelchair, walkers and what I describe as “the elderly.” They’re slowly moved to the front of the theatre. I go and sit there too – by the heavy exit door. I turn and look back around the theatre – there’s a significant attendance and even from down here I see it’s ethnically diverse. In fact it’s packed – and not because it’s a wet Sunday in Tauranga.

The Graham Young Theatre filling up….

A man comes out and vigorously dusts and polishes the intense black surface of the grand piano at the back of the stage. During the first section two female “stagehands” manouvre it out to the front of the stage.

The stagehands


Turquoise socks…

People filter into their stage seats – it’s basic black although one of the young men has on bright turquoise patterned socks. I see a small blonde head and the end of a bassoon over the top of a music stand.

In performance

The conductor appears. He’s balletic in his movements. He moves and bounces with the music. Later the intensity of his movements increases and his tall and spare, black-coated frame moves with increasing speed and intensity and the baton flies and whirls.

Along from me an elderly man slumps forward in his wheelchair – a retired farmer I think. His hat is pulled down towards his ears and the collar of his vintage swandri is turned up. He adjusts his hearing aids.

In the intermission players wave to family members. Mayor Brownless in casual mode appears from the stage side curtains and congratulates the young players (23 of them under 18 years), thanks Justus and notes this is “vital for the holistic health of Tauranga.”

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless talks…

There’s a second round of tuning up. I’m entranced by the French horn player -with a tattoo and shaven head – the YPT is not for nerds. Some of the music is dark and discordant. Harsh and sharp, light and dark – it’s not show tunes and 60’s pop. This is the real deal. In front of me the farmer reaches up and takes his hearing aids out and puts them in his swandri pocket.

ARTbop’s blurred image of Catherine Van Pelt as the saxophonist soloist

Collecting the music …..

The last to leave…

As I walk through the rain to my car I think how much I loved classical ballet. How I adored the physical strain of the repetitious practice. The little brown paper covered notebook I carried on the bus to school to learn “the theory”, the level of self-discipline it created – and it didn’t stop me dancing in the dark in those adolescent Auckland clubs. The YPT will be giving its members the same experiences. So – put your daughter (and son) on the stage Mrs W !

Incidentally – how do I know there’s a YPT – the hardworking Symphonia President Maggie Gething and her publicity team send ARTbop regular information about all aspects of the organisation’s activities – big hats off for all the hard work.

There’s a website

You can contact Justus Rozemond and the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga on

If you are interested in supporting either the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga or the Bay of Plenty Symphonia in any way please make contact through the above email address.

Youth Philharmonic Tauranga – this could be the orchestra for you

Part II of this article featuring our conversation with Conductor Justus Rozemond  appearing soon.   Check out the information about the discovery of the Gustav Holst sheet music in the archives of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia

“The media-frenzy about the Holst manuscript that we discovered in our BoPS library has settled down a bit. We have made the papers in Cuba, Tunesia, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Romania, Fiji, Mexico and Hungary, just to name a few. There’s a few media clips that can be accessed over the internet, if people are interested:

NZ TV1 News at 6 (22/7)

Music world in a spin over discovery of manuscripts   or this one which requires making a – free –  account:)      Our item: 27m52s

BBC 4 News (18/7)  

Our item: 28m08s

Radio NZ (19/7)


Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

ZOETICA – life – passion – bravery 30 August to 02 September 2017 Tarnished Frocks & Divas in association with Carrus     W: F: Tarnished Frocks and Divas



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