21 March 2014

Hamilton Summer Garden Festival

I didn't go to much of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival this year but what I did see was enough. The crowd was great and everyone was happy. Like the Hamilton Gardens which attract visitors by the busload this event is now a must see and a source of great civic pride. One morning as my son and I were making our way to the free jazz event a man smiled so much at us that we stopped and asked if he knew us.  He smiled even more and reached into his wallet and gave us his card. It and his American accent announced that he was President of the Oakland Raiders NFL supporters club. He'd seen the cap Byron was wearing! It was great lying back in the shade on a halcyon day listening to the jazz wafting through the gardens.

Just as good, was the "Sparkling Gems" concert Catherine and I attended.  This featured students of the world class University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music and supported by the Hamilton Chamber Music Society. The key phrase you heard after the concert was "what amazing young talent" - the performance of the works was

Courtney Johnston: Judge for the 2014 NZPPA
of the highest professional standard. At one stage I believe I drifted off on the wings of one of the monarch butterflies wafting through the Chinoiserie Garden.

New Tropical Garden - Hamilton
Then there were the several concerts of symphonic music, operatic events (including Dame Malvina Major) cultural events art shows and much more. Some of the more professional events were ticketed but much was free.


The Waikato Society of Arts, supported by the Philip Vela Family Trust, ran the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award - wonderful art from all over the country. It opened with a gala event and the art display was attended by over 2000 people on the first weekend alone.





The other event I attended was "Opera at Twilight" from Opera Brava - a wonderful selection of opera highlights in a superb setting; well timed to catch the last of the evening light.


Operatic Aria

Drinking Song

Delighted Audience



On top of all this was the new Tropical Garden which had just been opened - it was situated on one of the main thoroughfares throughout the Gardens Arts Festival - well visited and another source of civic pride. And to think that these gardens used to be the Hamilton rubbish dump when I arrived in 1972.