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Five minutes with Shelagh Magadza

20 May 2015


With the Wellington Jazz Festival set to heat up the coolest little capital this June, we caught up with Artistic Director, Shelagh Magadza to find out her picks of the festival and her favourite things about Wellington.

1. With 100 gigs across five days, there’s a lot to see at this year’s festival. What shows would be at the top of your must-see list?

Well first I’d say put aside at least a couple of days to do the festival programme justice. That would allow you to fit in a couple of the international acts as well as explore some of the daytime and late night programmes. Have some food at the Wellington Street Market and catch a free outdoor concert, head to St Peters church to see some of New Zealand’s finest concert artists and then have a strong coffee to get you through our late night programme in the bars.

2. Which international headline act are you most excited about having at the Wellington Jazz Festival?

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra – not only do they come straight from the home of jazz, but they represent hope, joy and resilience in the face of devastation. Also Celine Bonacina - she’s an extraordinarily charismatic performer with a lot of heart.

3. Which local up-and-comers should we make sure we check out?

Two local lads who are making it big overseas feature in Ross McHenry’s Future Ensemble this Wellington Jazz Festival. Adam Page and Myele Manzanza have been stalwarts of the Wellington scene for ages and it’s great to see them in this context with some of the most exciting grooves from across the Tasman. I’ve also had a chance to listen to Reuben Bradley’s album Cthullu Rising and I think this will be another pretty special show.

4. If you could bring any jazz musician/s (past or present) to the festival, who would it be and why?

Keith Jarrett would be my absolute dream – his Koln Concert has been the soundtrack to my life - but I’d settle for Miles Davis if he wasn’t available.


5. Is there a Wellington venue that reigns supreme in your eyes?

The Town Hall has a great acoustic that is one of the best in the world – but the Opera House has a genteel charm and intimacy that I love.

6. What’s your favourite Wellington beverage and where would you enjoy it most?

I don’t get out to bars much so it’s a real treat when I do – CGR Merchant & Co is handy to many venues and I love the quirky infused gin flavours they offer.

7. Name your ultimate Wellington midnight snack.

I’ve just fallen in love with the Greek Food Truck and their souvlaki.

8. Where’s the best caffeine fix in Wellington?

I have to confess to not being a caffeine drinker (makes me grumpy) so have to pass on that but notice my coffee addicted friends beat a trail to the Deluxe – it’s a Wellington institution.

9. What do you think visitors to Wellington should have on their ‘must-do’ list?

I’m sure the reason Wellington rates so highly on the ‘liveable cities index’ is because of the huge range of experiences offered in such a small area. My top picks are:

• Culture: galleries, music, theatre and museums all have something on offer year round
• Nature: the walkways of Wellington are a great way to get a different perspective on the city and appreciate the amazing environment we live in
• Eat: After the walk you’ll deserve a good feed. You could go gourmet such as the Hippopotamus Restaurant at the Museum Hotel or, for less money, the Night Markets offer a range of multi-cultural deliciousness
• Community: Wellington people love to promenade along Oriental Parade and the city waterfront on a good day. It’s great people watching and a lovely way to connect with a huge range of people

10. Anything else you want to tell us about the festival or Wellington?

I’m hugely grateful to the music and hospitality community in Wellington who contribute so much to the success of the Festival. They create that special vibe that is a hallmark of the festival and the city – thank you to everyone for your support.

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