Home » Wilma – and friends’ – campaign to save NZBC Concert: an update

Wilma – and friends’ – campaign to save NZBC Concert: an update

by Wilma Smith

Classic Melbourne was pleased to receive this communication from Adele Schonhardt of Musica Viva: “The sector has spoken and we’ve been heard!” https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?

—— (Original story below) ——

Radio NZ plans to put its Concert (classical music) station onto the AM band to make way for music more appealing to youth because their alleged research shows that old people are the main listeners to Concert! Wilma Smith makes an excellent case for leaving Concert where it is rather than having classical music streamed on line without presenters or context and unavailable on car radio.

“Thank you, Helen Clark, Dame Kiri, and other high-profile Kiwis who are rightly outraged and making public statements about this nonsensical, destructive proposal.

I’ve been living out of NZ for 17 years but visit several times a year and still call NZ home. This appalling proposal reminds me of a 70’s movie called Soylent Green, about a dystopian, overpopulated New York in the year 2022 in which the awful secret is that the Govt-rationed food substance called Soylent Green is actually churned-up unwanted humans fed to the unsuspecting other humans. I’m smack in the middle of Radio NZ’s unwanted 35-100 demographic, which I would have thought was quite a sizeable chunk of the population. I’m proudly Pasifika, Fiji-born and bred and NZ-raised, and count myself fortunate to have spent my entire career immersed in service to one of humanity’s greatest achievements, Western Classical music.

Radio NZ, Classical is not a dirty word – it describes a musical heritage of which we should be immensely proud. In my youth, I was a rarity, a brown-skinned child playing the violin, thanks to an enlightened primary school teacher (thank you, Mr Wilson!). These days, thanks to the great work of individuals and organisations who realise the power of Classical music to engage young minds and hearts and change lives, that is not the case. I was deeply moved to be part of the adjudication panel a few years ago who awarded 1st prize in the NZCT Chamber Music Contest to Te Ahi Kaa, a fabulous all-Maori string quartet from Whangarei who played Schubert “Death and the Maiden” 1st movement from memory. When the father of three of them broke into a spontaneous haka at the prize-giving, it was a moment no one in the audience will forget. It moves me to tears right now to even write about it. It was historic and a coming of age. This is diversity and youth culture to be celebrated!

Radio NZ Concert with its intelligent presenters and commentary is the public platform for all of us of any demographic who love and are nourished by this art form – and that group is growing from the diverse youth end up! It is NOT just the preserve of tragic old white people. Stop trying to dumb us down, Radio NZ. There will always be an audience for the great Classical music canon unless you kill it!”

Throughout New Zealand and Australia, we are sure there are young budding Wilma Smiths waiting for their turn on the concert platform with many of their friends to cheer them along. We have an obligation to help preserve their future.

You may also like