Wellington’s University counts down to CubaDupa

As well as partnering with CubaDupa, the University is behind the Wellington festival's premiere of a centrepiece composition for more than 300 musicians.

Percussionists rehearse for composer Emeritus Professor John Psathas's CubaSonic
Percussionists rehearse for composer Emeritus Professor John Psathas's CubaSonic. Image: Samuel Pietras

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is supporting the 2021 CubaDupa Festival, which takes place in the capital on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March.

“I’m delighted the University is a CubaDupa Festival Programme Partner,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.

“Wellington is New Zealand’s creative capital, and many of our current and former staff, students, and alumni will be contributing to the energy and excitement the event brings to the city streets.

“As Wellington’s University and New Zealand’s university of choice for those wanting to study in the arts and humanities, we have supported CubaDupa for a number of years now, and it has been fantastic to see the festival continue to grow and have such a positive impact on the vibe of the city,” says Professor Guilford.

A centrepiece of this year’s event will be the premiere of CubaSonic, a new composition by University Emeritus Professor of Music John Psathas.

The mass sonic work will feature more than 300 musicians performing live, including from the University’s New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī and many leading musical groups, together with a pre-recorded soundtrack and a Tesla coil.

“John Psathas has had a long relationship with the New Zealand School of Music and we’re delighted to be supporting him again in this capacity,” says Professor Guilford.

“John’s ability to bring diverse groups of people together to create profound musical experiences is well known and CubaSonic promises to be an exciting event for the crowds that have the opportunity to see and hear it.”

Festival director Gerry Paul says the inspiration for CubaSonic came when Emeritus Professor Psathas was exploring the festival environments and contemplating the possibility of uniting the entire site through “one big beautiful music performance”.

“Now into our third year of planning this mass musical interruption, I feel like our community needs this kaupapa more than ever—to celebrate community, diversity, and creativity, together, in person,” says Mr Paul.

“The rehearsal on 3 March was very exciting and emotional, hearing this powerful piece of music and seeing all these different ensembles playing together with such enthusiasm and positivity. I truly cannot wait for CubaSonic to bring the streets alive.”

Watch a short video of CubaSonic rehearsals.

Find out about CubaDupa.