|Broadcast area||New Zealand|
Freeview: Channel 51
|First air date||1975|
|Owner||Radio New Zealand|
RNZ Concert or Radio New Zealand Concert (M?ori: Te Reo Irirangi o Aotearoa Concert), known as Concert FM until 2007, is a publicly funded non-commercial New Zealand FM fine music radio network. It is owned and operated by Radio New Zealand from its Wellington headquarters. The network's playlist of classical, jazz, contemporary, and world music includes recordings by local musicians and composers. Around 15 percent of its airtime is spent on live concerts, orchestral performances, operas, interviews, features, and specialty music programs, many of which are recorded locally.
The network's specialist production department commissions work, initiates music programs, and records live broadcasts of concerts and recitals from local and visiting international musicians. RNZ Concert received the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Governor's Award. Radio New Zealand Concert draws content from its international counterparts, including ABC Classic FM, the European Broadcasting Union, the WFMT Radio Network, and BBC Radio 3.
New Zealand radio stations were streamlined in the 1950s into three distinct call signs. Light popular entertainment stations came under ZB and mixed or middlebrow stations were identified as YA. There were also four highbrow YC stations taking on the model of the BBC's Third Programme - 1YC in Auckland, 2YC in Wellington, 3YC in Christchurch and 4YC in Dunedin. Both YA and YC stations began taking networked programming from Wellington that matched their particular format, in place of local or regional programmes. The YA stations were rebranded as the National Programme in 1964, but it was not until 1975 that YC stations officially formed the Concert Programme.
The growth of private commercial radio and Radio New Zealand's commercial assets by the fourth National government changed the environment in which the Concert Programme operates. Radio New Zealand became a Crown entity, with the Concert programme being one of the few services it continued to operate. Until the launch of the AM Network in 1997, the network carried live coverage of the proceedings of the New Zealand Parliament.
Since 2000, the network has aired a New Year's Day countdown from an annual survey of New Zealand's 65 most popular fine music tracks. First-placed pieces have included Handel's Messiah and Schumann's Konzertstuck first movement, and a majority of high-ranking pieces have come from English composers. The highest-ranked pieces are performed live by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra during the previous November, at concerts hosted by well-known New Zealanders like John Campbell and Wallace Chapman. A print advertising campaign showing the musical scores of popular tracks depicted as battle scenes has been used to promote the countdown since 2012.
On 22 January 2007 Concert FM was renamed Radio New Zealand Concert to associate it more clearly with the Radio New Zealand brand. Since 2008 it has been under the management of former radio documentary-maker and music educator Roger Smith, a member of the music advisory committee of Lilburn Trust. As part of its promotion of New Zealand Music Month, the network has produced a series of podcasts of New Zealand performances of classic works. Through the Soundz Centre for New Zealand Music Trust's Resound Project, NZ On Air contributes $130,000 each year towards local recordings for the Concert programme.
The Concert network has been involved in several contests and performances commemorating Anzac Day and the centenary of World War I. In 2014, it broadcast a concert featuring the five finalists of a one-off secondary school song-writing competition - 'The Calling' - in which students had to reflect the emotional impact the declaration of World War I had on New Zealand families through an original musical score.
In the same year it ran a joint competition with ABC Classic FM and the Australian Department for Veterans' Affairs - Gallipoli Songs - for original compositions that best reflected the experiences of the original ANZAC troops and their families. Australian soprano Merlyn Quaife, Australian composer Elliott Gyger, ABC host Stephen Adams, RNZ host Kate Mead and New Zealand composer Dame Gillian Whitehead judged the competition - and New Zealand composer Andrew Baldwin was one of the six winners. The compositions were performed, recorded and broadcast on the Concert programme and Classic programme on Anzac Day 2015.
RNZ is fully funded by the government through New Zealand on Air, but its funding has been nominally frozen since the election of the fifth National government in 2008. During his time as broadcasting minister in 2008 to 2011, National MP Johnathon Coleman asked the organisation to consider alternative revenue sources, including listener donations and commercial sponsorship of RNZ Concert programmes, to help cover the network's operating costs. Commercial sponsorship has been criticised by opposition MPs and activism group Save RNZ, was rejected by former chief executive Peter Cavanagh, and continues to be resisted by current chief executive Paul Thompson.
The Concert programme has drawn criticism for its Government funding. It has faced allegations of elitism, left-wing bias, and serving wealthy audiences and minority interests. Equally, it has been accused of closely following commercial radio formats and failing to perform as a public broadcaster without commercial constraints. Supporters of the network have said it performs well on a small budget. In response, David Farrar has called for the station to be scrapped, saying it "plays basically German classical music" when "almost every piece of classical music in history is available for free and can be streamed, made into playlists and the like".
Recorded performances of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra have been one of the cornerstones of the Concert programme since the orchestra was first formed. The orchestra began as a department of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, which later became Radio New Zealand, in 1946.
Despite the formal separation, Symphony Orchestra performances continue to be recorded, broadcast and archived by RNZ Concert. Auckland Town Hall, Wellington Town Hall and Michael Fowler Centre performances are broadcast live-to-air and streamed online, and performances in other centres or overseas cities are usually recorded and broadcast at a later date. On many occasions the pieces are from prominent composers, like Gustav Mahler, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Ludwig van Beethoven, Sergei Prokofiev or Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. On other occasions, they are the work of local composers like Gareth Farr, James MacMillan or Chris Watson.
Each year, young composers studying musical composition at university are also given the opportunity to have their work performed by the Symphony Orchestra and broadcast on the Concert programme. The NZSO Todd Corporation Young Composers Award provides nine finalists with firsthand mentoring on orchestral composition and the chance to have their composition workshopped, rehearsed and performed by the full-size, professional orchestra. Each finalist is interviewed for a Concert feature programme, with a judging panel deciding the award winner.
University of Otago student Sam van Betew won the competition in 2014, and said it was an honour to have "one of the world's best orchestras" performing his music.University of Auckland and New Zealand School of Music graduate Robin Toan was a finalist in 2008, and described it as one of the most valuable experiences a young composer can have.
In 2005, Robin Toan was also the first young composer to be selected as composer-in-residence for the National Youth Orchestra - one of two Symphony Orchestra subsidiaries whose performances have been recorded for the Concert programme. Performances of the NZSO Chamber Orchestra were also recorded and broadcast by the Concert programme over the 13 years they performed.
Chamber Music New Zealand, Wellington Chamber Orchestra and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra regularly perform for broadcasts and podcasts, and around five Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performances are recorded every year.New Zealand String Quartet concerts have featured on RNZ Concert, as well as being broadcast by Deutsche Welle, CBC Radio 2 and ABC Classic FM.
Performances by church and private school choirs are often featured, including those of Wellington's Cathedral of St Paul and Christchurch's St Andrews School. Auckland's Musica Sacra chamber choir has had several concerts recorded since 1998, and Wellington's Nota Bene chamber choir has had its concerts regularly recorded since 2004. Winners of the Royal Overseas League Arts International Scholarship for a New Zealand Chamber Ensemble also have their performances recorded for broadcast.
Over several decades the Concert Programme has recorded and broadcast many New Zealand compositions, and featured many local musicians. Its collected recordings, currently held by Ng? Taonga Sound and Vision national archives, have become a record of New Zealand's fine music history. Some of the only remaining audio recordings of composer Douglas Lilburn are two interviews with the Concert programme and a recorded performance of him playing his own piece From the Port Hills.
Many New Zealand musicians and composers, like London-based Kiri te Kanawa and Florida State University's Reed Gainsford, have had their work recorded and broadcast by Concert while pursuing further musical study and career opportunities abroad in the United States, United Kingdom or Europe. Other artists have remained based in New Zealand, while having their work showcased by Concert and by fine music stations overseas. These include pianist and chamber soloist Katherine Austin, singer Judy Bellingham and organist Michael Stewart.
Composers and composing musicians such as Michael Williams, Phillip Brownlee, Yvette Audain, Nigel Keay and Ryan Youens have had their work featured on Concert, and several conductors including Martin Setchell have been involved in recordings. Singers Morag Atchison, Stephanie Acraman and Valerie Wycoff, violinists Amalia Hall and Natalie Sharonlin and pianists Charmaine Ford and Rachel Thomas have also performed their work.
Many international artists have had their work recorded for broadcast in New Zealand and other countries. For example, Bulgarian pianist Hristo Kazakov has been featured on Concert and other radio stations in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Peru, Taiwan, Estonia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Israel and Turkey.
Canadian barotone David Pike and Australian violinist Robin Willson have both received international exposure on the Concert network, while also being played by their own local fine music stations. The compositions of Britain's John Gardner have been performed for Concert, and University of Hull music lecturer and clarinetist Rob MacKay has performed his music for the network.
The station has live continuity presentation between 6am and midnight, and automated music overnight. Four full-time continuity presenters - Rick Young, David Morriss, Christine Argyle and Clarissa Dunn - present most of the network's programmes. Casual presenters, contributors, writers and producers include former BBC Radio 3 presenter and music journalist Charlotte Wilson, music administrators Julie Sperring and Roger Lloyd, and composers James Gardner and Celeste Oram.
These are the community-owned frequencies and other broadcasting methods of RNZ National (Concert's sister station):