Things to do  |  21 Jan 2022

Saturday night's Sparks concert will be the first for violinist Arna Morton but as a Christchurch local she’s grown up with the popular event.

The new Principal Second Violin for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra has fond memories of Sparks as a chance to relax and enjoy classical music, and an opportunity for people who might not get to experience it that often. 

“I’m excited to be part of that now as a performer,” she says. 

After more than six years in Melbourne, where she completed her PhD in Music Performance, Dr Morton and her husband returned to her hometown early last year seeking refuge from the uncertainties of Covid-19.

After working with the orchestra on a casual basis, she auditioned for Principal Second Violinist in March, won the position in August, and is loving her new role. 

She says the biggest difference between playing indoors and outside is the weather. 

“Definitely. Not only rain, but also extreme heat or cold, especially for wooden instruments, because they can be easily affected by the temperature and humidity fluctuations.  

“Acoustically it’s different, too, because there’s virtually no reverberance. We don’t have the same acoustics on stage that we are used to, so we rely more heavily on visual cues.”

Fortunately, the weather forecast is looking perfect for Saturday’s event with sunny and dry conditions expected. 

“I’m really looking forward to performing Star Wars; it’s always very exciting to play. Everyone in the orchestra has some challenging but exciting parts, and it’s exhilarating for the audience.”

What’s one thing you always do before a performance?

“I always use the bathroom! Is that okay to say? I think every classical musician will relate to that. There’s this heightened sense of adrenaline before you go on stage. I definitely still get nervous – which is important – it’s about channelling the energy required for a performance.”

  • Gates open at 3.30pm
  • Pre-show starts at 6.30pm
  • 7.15pm main show starts
  • 9.30pm fireworks start

A shuttle service will run every 15 minutes between 4pm and 6.30pm, leaving from the Bus Exchange (Lichfield Street side) and dropping people off outside Christ's College (Rolleston Avenue).

Vaccine certificates are required to attend this event for anyone aged over 12 years and three months.