Mechanical Ballet

...Loudspeakers that pivot and pirouette...

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Drums that strike themselves. Loudspeakers that pivot and pirouette. Pianos whose keys tap dance ghostly toccatas. Welcome to a brave new world of mechatronic music, where self-playing instruments rule.

Autonomous instruments have fascinated composers since the dawn of the mechanical age. The most famous of these is arguably Georges Antheil’s epic work Ballet Mécanique (1925) – best described as The Rite of Spring meets heavy metal. 

In Mechanical Ballet, experience the wonder for yourself as a crowd of mechatronic loudspeakers and percussion instruments come to life – created by Wellington-based musicians/engineers Jim Murphy, Bridget Johnson and David Downes. They keep pace with percussionists from leading Kiwi new music ensemble Stroma and top New Zealand pianists Sarah Watkins and Stephen De Pledge.

This concert of virtuosic proportions features two seminal works by US minimalist icon Steve Reich, Drumming Part 1 and Piano Phase, as well as world premieres of works by composers Bridget Johnson, David Downes and Michael Norris. The future starts here.

Performances are:

  • Friday 16 March, 7.00pm - followed by a post show artist talk
  • Saturday 17 March, 7.00pm

Prices*: Adult A Reserve $49.00 - Early bird $45.00; Adult B Reserve $39.00. *Service fees apply, see below. 

Performance length: approx. 1 hour and 40 mins (incl. interval). Latecomers will be seated when appropriate. Tickets are for allocated seating. please note this performance uses strobe lighting.

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Tickets for wheelchair and companion seats should be booked through the New Zealand Festival on (04) 912 0411 or

Booking fees: Ticketmaster booking fees apply to all ticket purchases, including door sales.

  • Internet bookings = $5.00 per transaction
  • Phone, email and postal bookings = $11.00 per transaction
  • In person (including door sales) = $2.00 per ticket
  • Courier mail = $5.50 per transaction
  • A payment processing fee of no more than 2.3% applies to purchases by credit card, debit card or gift card.
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