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Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh gift $2 million towards Wellington’s National Music Centre

todayAugust 28, 2023 4

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A $2 million donation from Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh will go towards a fit out of “state-of-the-art” recording studios in the basement of the Wellington Town Hall. (File photo)

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

A $2 million donation from Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh will go towards a fit out of “state-of-the-art” recording studios in the basement of the Wellington Town Hall. (File photo)

Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Fran Walsh have gifted $2 million towards Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s new National Music Centre.

A collaboration between the Wellington City Council, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the university to form a musical hub near Civic Square, it will include new music teaching and performance spaces located near the Town Hall.

The celebrated Wellington film couple said they were delighted to support New Zealand’s first orchestral recording studios.

“New Zealand has long needed a dedicated music recording facility, so it’s wonderful that the NZSO and Victoria University have finally achieved this,” they said in a statement.

The funding will enable the fit out of state-of-the-art recording studios in the Wellington Town Hall basement to go ahead, providing a complete in-house package of recording and mixing facilities.

Box-in-box construction will ensure the studio spaces are acoustically isolated, providing the most advanced level of recording facilities available.

The Town Hall would be an “exceptional asset for Wellington and was built to be a live performance venue”, the couple said.

Music for the Hobbit movies was recorded in the town hall with the NZSO and help from London’s Abbey Road studios.

Sir Peter Jackson said he and partner Dame Fran Walsh are delighted to support New Zealand’s first orchestral recording studios.

Ross Giblin/Stuff

Sir Peter Jackson said he and partner Dame Fran Walsh are delighted to support New Zealand’s first orchestral recording studios.

“After they’d spent a couple of weeks analysing the auditorium, the Abbey Road engineers declared Wellington’s old Town Hall to be ‘one of the best acoustic spaces’ they had ever encountered.

“When the Town Hall was built, microphones and tape recorders didn’t exist – they hadn’t been invented. It was built to be a live-performance venue with the sound of every voice and instrument bouncing perfectly from wall to wall.”

NZSO chief executive Peter Biggs said Sir Peter and Dame Fran’s generosity would ultimately benefit all New Zealanders, adding the orchestra had a “proud history of recording for film”, including Hollywood blockbusters.

“While the recording suite is significant for the NZSO, it will also help raise the profile of Aotearoa New Zealand as a one-stop shop for filmmaking talent, whether it’s acting and directing, visual effects or film scoring.”

He said it was essential in Aotearoa’s efforts to attract international productions and produce world-class films and television series.

ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS/WILLIS BOND/SUPPLIED

The new building to be constructed next to the Michael Fowler Centre will house the new National Music Centre.

Former Wellington mayor Dame Kerry Prendergast previously likened the project to “the Juilliard of the Pacific”.

Prendergast, who is chairperson of the national music centre fundraising campaign, said she was thrilled to be moving forward in the next steps of revitalising the “beloved Town Hall”.

“Sir Peter and Dame Fran’s generosity will not only empower our local talent in Aotearoa, but also provide a world-class space for film scoring and recording which rivals other countries. I have the deepest gratitude for their invaluable contribution.”

The Post recently reported the build was one of several capital expenditure projects impacted as the university worked to address its growing $34m deficit and comes amidst proposed cuts to the university’s music programme.

While the Town Hall part of the project will go ahead and is scheduled to open in 2025, the university and symphony orchestra will no longer take two floors in the new building, being developed by Willis Bond in the Michael Fowler Centre car park.

The university increased its funding by $6.3m for the performance spaces in the Town Hall, which is under construction.



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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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