Stir your soul at Wellington’s classical music crawl


Classic on Cuba

the festival returns to Pōneke from July 22 to 24, 2022

Classic on CubaPōneke, Wellington’s classical music festival announces its return to the capital this winter with a varied and fun new line-up of musical acts featuring 100 shows, performed by over 40 bands, in 20 venues, over the weekend July 22-24, 2022.

Exploring classical music in a contemporary world, Classic on Cuba pushes the cultural and artistic boundaries of classical music and preconceptions of what ‘classical music’ is, so audiences can access and enjoy it with some of the most accomplished classical musicians Wellington has to offer. Combined with a refreshed brand aesthetic, the 2022 program features the iconic Classic Crawl as well as new additions to the range in the form of Late night sessionsand
Featured concerts speak NZSO and the
Lexus Song Quest Grand Finale Gala.

The heart of the festival is the Classical Crawl program, which features 90 thirty-minute shows at 20 different venues around Cuba Street, ranging from Wellington’s iconic cafes, bars and galleries. The Classical Crawl involves everything from the nine-piece flute choir The flute squadronto the jazz-fusion quartet Small quartet of symphonic saxophonesto the sparkling piano duo Enharmonic Duoto young graduates The Gemini Clarinet Quintetand solo artist Jack Hooker.

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

Classic on Cuba is also delighted to present Kaupapa Māori ensembles, celebrating indigenous music and classical music from Aotearoa. Exploring and celebrating the native classic sounds of Aotearoa are the band Manawa who blend the spiritual sounds of taonga pūoro with electric bass and drums, guitar and te reo Māori. local group
ao offer unique and totally improvised performances within the framework of the festival this year, combining taonga pūoro, koto (from Japan), violin and modern musical technology. And Hiwa proudly brings the art of kapa haka to the classical program with a fusion of traditional and contemporary elements.

Classic on Cuba also offers a range of organized, camp and colorful events for the public to fall in love with. Celebrating the influence of classical music in pop and contemporary culture are whistles, a highly anticipated Bridgerton-esque musical evening, featuring string quartet hits from the popular Netflix show and folk music from the Regency era. Dressing up as a theme is also strongly encouraged. The young at heart can also take a musical journey through the “zoo” with Wellington Orchestra’s Carnival of the Animals! This much-loved play will be shown in theaters on Cuba Street for the enjoyment of children young and old.

The 2022 program also includes exciting multidisciplinary collaborations such as
Deco Dancea special collaboration between Australian choreographer Chrissie Parrot work with Wellington Java Dance Company. Theater artists and musicians from an innovative baroque ensemble
The queen’s closet, bring a theatrical and transformative touch to the program. And awarded
Long Cloud Youth Theater and
Pōneke Classic Sessions combine to present a whirlwind, fiery and spicy session with a mix of spoken word, poetry and classical music.

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

Once you’ve traveled through the classic crawl of the Classic on Cuba program, dive into Late night sessionsa sensational new series of “all is well” concerts with drinks, cocktails and pizzas at the iconic Thief & Wanderer and Bedlam and misery sights on Glover Park.

Ella sings Ella (with strings) is a moving tribute to legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, sung by Ella Dunbar Wilcox with new arrangements of Boy Seth
and featuring a jazz and string quartet. Experience the trials and tribulations of modern life with Tinder dating in Pōneke: A crossover concert of drag and classic with Drag King and Opera Performer Eddie D’Amore, supported by a vibrant saxophone quartet.
Hip Hop x Strings features heavyweights from the Wellington concert scene Sam Notman (Riiki Reid, Aacacia), Miharo Gregory (LABORATORY), Chris CK
(Raw Collective), Rachel Fraser (Witch, Myele Manzanza), Louisa Williamson (LAB, Trinity Roots) playing alongside a classical string quartet to turn up the anti. And West End and Aotearoa Musical Theater performer and musician JR Ballantyne present We kiss in the shadows a small-scale Broadway-style concert in tribute to the late musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, with famed West End musical director and personal friend of Mr. Sondheim, Mark W. Dorrell on piano.

If you’re looking for the experience of a full-scale orchestra, join us for two Featured concerts as part of Classic on Cuba This year. From one end of the galaxy to the other…
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra opens the festival at the Michael Fowler Center and
proudly presents a concert of all the greatest classic hits ranging from epic film themes to the first piano concerto ever recorded in 1909. And experience the excitement of Aotearoa, New Zealand’s most scintillating opera night and a celebration of the classical voice with the Lexus Song Quest Grand Finale Gala on July 23, when the five finalist opera singers will take the stage with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to fight for the grand prize.

Festival Director, Drew James said: “We are delighted to bring this third Classical on Cuba festival to Wellington. The wonderful creative team of artistic advisor, John Psathas, and coordinator Leah Thomas have put together a diverse and inspiring program, exploring classical music in its many traditional, contemporary and cultural forms.

With the Classical Crawl offered in the bars, cafes and galleries of Cuba Street, and tickets costing about the same as two cups of coffee, Classical on Cuba can be enjoyed by all. Nothing beats performing in front of an audience seated a few feet away. A featured concert by the NZSO, and featuring the Lexus Song Quest at the Michael Fowler Center, celebrates Wellington’s vibrant classical music scene.”

Classic on Cuba proudly opens the doors to taste classical music with tickets from only $10 which includes the NZSO Opening Concert at the Michael Fowler Center and the Classical Crawl programme. Audiences can make the most of the crawl by bringing friends and whānau with our group ticket discount for $8 tickets with 8 or more tickets purchased. Our late nights also remain at an affordable price and start from

The 2022 Classic on Cuba release of the program on Wednesday June 8 with tickets on sale for all events from 9 a.m. the same day. The festival takes place from July 22 to 24 in 18 venues on Cuba Street. For more information and to book tickets, go to

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