Stir Your Soul At Wellington’s Classical Music Crawl

Classical on Cuba

festival returns to Pōneke July 22 – 24, 2022

Classical on CubaPōneke, Wellington’s very own classical music festival announces its return to the capital this Winter with a diverse and playful new lineup of music acts featuring 100 shows, performed by over 40 music groups, across 20 venues, during the weekend of 22 — 24 July , 2022.

Exploring classical music in a contemporary world, Classical on Cuba pushes the cultural and artistic boundaries of classical music and preconceptions of what ‘classical music’ is, for audiences to access and enjoy with some of the most accomplished classical musicians that Wellington has to offer. Paired with a refreshed brand aesthetic, the 2022 program features the iconic Classical Crawl as well as new additions to the line up in the form of the Late Night Sessionsand
Feature Concerts by the NZSO and the
Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala,

The heart of the festival is the Classical Crawl programme, which offers 90, thirty-minute shows across 20 different venues throughout the Cuba Street precinct, ranging from iconic Wellington cafes, bars and galleries. The Classical Crawl involves everything from nine-piece flute choir The Flute Squadronto jazz-fusion quartet Little Symphony Sax Quartetto sparkling piano duo Duo Enharmonicsto recent graduates The Gemini Clarinet Quintetand solo artist Jack Hooker,

Be the first audience in the world to hear five brand new songs in the New Cuba Street Suitea special commission in which five local and noted composers, Lucien Johnson, Salina Fisher, Arjuna Oakes, Umar Zakaria and Jess Deaconbring to life the poetry and words of local authors through music.

Classical on Cuba is also excited to feature Kaupapa Māori ensembles, celebrating indigenous music-making and classical music from Aotearoa. Exploring and celebrating the indigeneous classical sounds of Aotearoa are the group Manawa who mix the spiritual sounds of taonga pūoro with electric bass & drums, guitar and te reo Māori. Local based group
Ao offer unique and totally improvised performances as part of the festival this year, combining taonga pūoro, koto (of Japan), violin, and modern music technology. And Hiwa proudly brings the art of kapa haka to the classical program with a fusion of traditional and contemporary elements.

Classical on Cuba also offers a range of curated, camp and colorful events for audiences to fall in love with. Celebrating the influence of classical music in pop and contemporary culture are The Whistledowns, a highly anticipated talk-of-the-town Bridgerton-esque musical soirée, bringing string quartet hits from the popular Netflix show and folk music from the regency era. Dressing up in theme is also highly encouraged. Those young at heart can also take a musical trip through the ‘zoo’ with Orchestra Wellington’s Carnival of Animals, This well-loved piece will be hitting Cuba Street venues for kids young and old to enjoy.

The 2022 program also features exciting multi-disciplinary collaborations such as
Deco Dancea special collaboration between Australian choreographer Chrissie Parrott working with Wellington’s Java Dance Company. Theater performers and musicians from innovative baroque ensemble
Queen’s Closet, bring a theatrical and transformative treat to the program. And award winning
Long Cloud Youth Theater and
Pōneke Classical Sessions combine to present a swirling, spirited, and spicy session with a blend of spoken word, poetry and classical music.

Artistic Coordinator Leah Thomas says: “Classical on Cuba is a uniquely Wellington event and an accessible way to celebrate and support classical music. We want people to discover something new in their familiar and favorite Cuba Street venues, while our artists celebrate the diversity and depth of their art form. This festival lives to be out-of-the-box and won’t listen to any of the usual “rules” when it comes to hosting classical music.”

Once you’ve journeyed through the classical crawl of the Classical on Cuba programme, dive into The Late Night Sessionsa sensational new series of ‘anything goes gigs’ complete with beverages, cocktails and pizza at the iconic Rogue & Vagabond and Bedlam & Squalor venues on Glover Park.

Ella sings Ella (with strings) is a touching tribute to the legendary jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, sung by Ella Dunbar-Wilcox with fresh arrangements by Seth Boy
and featuring a jazz and string quartet. Experience the trials and tribulations of modern life with Tinder Dating in Pōneke: A Drag and Classical Crossover Concert with Drag King and Opera Performer Eddie D’Amore, backed with a vibrant saxophone quartet.
Hip Hop x Strings features heavyweights from the Wellington gig-scene Sam Notman (Riiki Reid, Aacacia), Miharo Gregory (LAB), Chris CK
(Raw Collective), Rachel Fraser (Sorceress, Myele Manzanza), Louisa Williamson (LAB, Trinity Roots) playing alongside a classical string quartet to up the anti. And West End and Aotearoa Musical Theater performer and musician JR Ballantyne presents We Kiss In A Shadow, a small-scale broadway style concert in tribute to the late musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, with the acclaimed West End music director and personal friend to Mr Sondheim, Mark W. Dorrell on the piano.

If you’re after the full scale orchestra experience, join us for two Feature Concerts as part of Classical on Cuba this year. From one side of the galaxy to the other… The
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra opens the festival at the Michael Fowler Center and
And experience the excitement of Aotearoa, New Zealand’s most proudly glittering night of opera and a celebration of the classical voice with the Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala on 23 July, as the five finalist opera singers take the stage with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to battle it out for the grand prize.

Festival Director, Drew James says: “We are delighted to present this third Classical on Cuba festival in Wellington. The wonderful creative team of Artistic Advisor, John Psathas, and Coordinator Leah Thomas have put together a diverse and inspirational programme, exploring classical music in its many traditional, contemporary and cultural forms.

With the Classical Crawl offered in Cuba Street bars, cafes, and gallery spaces, and tickets costing about the same as two cups of coffee, Classical on Cuba can be enjoyed by all. Nothing beats performing for an audience who are seated just a few feet away. A feature concert by the NZSO, and with the Lexus Song Quest on at the Michael Fowler Center celebrates the vibrant classical music scene in Wellington”.

Classical on Cuba proudly opens the doors to take a bite out of some classical music with tickets from just $10 which includes the NZSO opening concert at the Michael Fowler Center and Classical Crawl programme. Audiences can make the most of the crawl by bringing friends and whānau along with our group ticket discount for $8 tickets with 8 tickets or more purchased, Our late night sessions also remain at an accessible price and start from

The 2022 Classical on Cuba program releases Wednesday 8 June with tickets on sale for all events from 9am the same day. The festival takes place 22 — 24 July across 18 Cuba Street venues. To find out more information and to book tickets, please visit

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