'The Journey' CD Release Reception
Dargaville, New Zealand

New York based Dargaville born accordionist Kevin Friedrich celebrated the release of his new CD 'The Journey' at a reception held at the Dargaville Methodist Church on Sunday, 4 October 2020. Attended by guests from around New Zealand, the Release Reception showcased the story behind the CD, introduced the composer, as well as presented four of the tracks found on the recording.

Kevin's opening words:

The Journey
of life can offer us unexpected opportunities.  I have been blessed with many! An early opportunity to play the accordion began with lessons being offered at the Dargaville Primary School by Ben and Doreen Emmett.  I was very fortunate that my parents Val and Athol Friedrich, supported, believed in and continually encouraged my musical education from this time as a seven-year-old, right through to my Conservatory Degrees abroad and in fact, throughout my career. 
Later, my first accordion teacher Doreen Emmett, who went on to play Viola in the Auckland Symphony Orchestra wrote to me in New York to alert me to the musical genius, open mindedness and creativity of their founder, Musical Director and renowned composer Gary Daverne.  She was sure he would consider working with the accordion either as a soloist or in creating a new work.  This was the beginning of another life changing opportunity.  Gary did indeed, begin his association with the accordion.  After making many arrangements for the Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra, he wrote a major Concerto for Accordion and Symphony Orchestra called Rhapsody, which was premiered by my former teacher Harley Jones. 
As I became acquainted with Gary, I asked if he would consider writing a piece for an ensemble I was a member of, for our concert tour of New Zealand, which he did.   Since that time, Gary has created some of the most beautiful accordion music I have had the pleasure of playing, written for a variety of genres, many of which you will hear on the CD.  I am forever appreciative of his friendship and inspired by his lyrical and thoughtful compositions, often created for specific people and projects.  I have been the honoured recipient of many of his compositions during our 30 plus year collaboration.  It is with great privilege that I have put together this CD showcasing some of that work.  This is my story with Gary Daverne and now it is my great pleasure to welcome you here today as I introduce you to my new CD, The Journey.


The Journey CD Cover and list of Tracks
Kevin Friedrich and Gary Daverne

At the request of myself, this work was commissioned by the Kaipara District Council, in honour of long time accordion and arts supporter and lifetime member of the New Zealand Accordion Association, the late Mrs. Jenny Cocurullo. Jenny had been such a great mentor and supporter of many people, myself included. A respected and loved citizen of Dargaville, nestled here in the Kaipara, in a stunning Eulogy to Jenny, presented by then Mayor Graeme Ramsey, in his closing words Graeme talked of how Jenny had always promoted the Kaipara as the 'Gem of the North', but he said that, in fact, she was 'The Gem of the Kaipara'
I knew instantly that this was the perfect name of a piece of music and envisioned something of grand scale, an orchestral work fitting, of this magnificent lady. I asked Gary what it would take, not only to write a piece of music commissioned in her honour, but to bring his Auckland Symphony Orchestra to Dargaville to give the World Premiere. After securing the financial details with fundraising and sponsorship the project got the go ahead.
A while later I got a call from Gary and he said.. I have good news and bad news. I said.. ok.. and Gary cheerfully said.. the good news is that I have created your Gem of the Kaipara, the bad news.. for you is, that I have made it for accordion solo with String Orchestra… so you better get practicing!
I remember the week before the Premiere, I was in Auckland at rehearsal and after having previously told Gary how much I particularly loved the lyrical melodies, and how nice it would be to hear that theme re-stated, Gary quickly obliged and added another section. At that rehearsal, one week before the show, he told the orchestra to take their music in hand and to ‘rip it up’. He then handed out the enhanced version which is the piece we present today.
Written in simple sonata form, the introduction of the piece is quite mysterious in nature, with the lower strings providing a subtle bagpipe like drone. The airy melody and soft percussive effects are reminiscent of the awakening of the lush Kauri forests and countryside of the Kaipara, from its thick blanketing of dawn fog.
The main themes are written around Jenny's name and the name of our region the 'Kaipara'. The lyrical re-occurring melody is first heard by the accordion, with string accompaniment and then switches to the strings accompanied by the accordion. After working through an animated and rhythmical jig like section depicting Jenny's boundless energy, many interests and Scottish heritage, the strings restate the soaring melody expressing the vast expansiveness and sweeping landscapes of the Kaipara.
We had hoped to record this with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, but at the time, they had exhausted all their available time making the soundtracks to the Lord of the Rings Movies.
Gary then contracted out another orchestra and I had the privilege of travelling with Gary to the Czech Republic to record this work with the Moravian Philharmonic near Prague. This is the track you will hear on the CD.
Written for solo accordion with String Orchestra and percussion, the Gem of the Kaipara was premiered in Dargaville on the 11th of May 2002, where it was performed by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra with myself as soloist, conducted by Gary. The performance for the CD Release Reception was a screening of this World Premiere, prepared by Ken Cashin which showcases the Kaipara that Jenny loved so much.  A special welcome was given to Mrs. Cocurullo's daughter, Fiona who was in attendance.

Screen Shots from archive footage
Top: Kevin Friedrich and Gary Daverne with the Auckland Symphyony Orchestra at the World Premiere.
This was the performance screened at the CD release.
The track on the CD is of Kevin Friedrich with the Moravian Philharmonic, Czech Republic
Above left: The family of Jenny Cocurullo, the honoree of the work Gem of the Kaipara - Above right: Kevin Friedrich and Gary Daverne
Kevin Friedrich introducing New Zealand composer - Gary Daverne

The work Mother’s Song is beautiful piece by Gary, and is taken from an original song from one of his many Children’s Musicals, this one: The Brothers Three.

A long time ago, in a country, far, far away, there lived three young brothers. They worked and lived on a farm with their dear mother. Farm labouring in those times without machinery was such intensive hard work and it paid so little for their efforts. The brothers dreamt of being rich! After a very tough life and years of this hard labour the brothers finally made the difficult decision to leave their dear mother, but use this time to go off for 5 years in search of skills that would lead to fame and fortune. A pivotal moment came when they had to break the news to their mother as they sing:

We must tell you right away
We are tired, we are poor
and we feel there must be more
We are leaving now, to travel our own way.
This is something we must do.
We will go, we will learn,
We will master a fine trade
In a few short years,
Our fortunes will be made.

Early the next morning the Brothers went to the fields and said goodbye to everyone. For their dear mother, five years was going to be a very long time. In the piece I’m going to play to you, it reflects the Mother’s words as she sings:

Five years is a very long time,
And I know, I will miss,
Those Three sons of mine,
But I wish you all the best
I hope your dreams come true
and you know, that every day,
I will think of you.

You can hear this very melodic but melancholic pop song which I’ll present with the Studio orchestra backing track. It’s a beautiful song and what stands out, is the magnificent electric guitar solo in the middle. This is a little glimpse into Gary’s love of Rock and Roll. Gary of course has access to the finest musicians and this guitarist is truly spectacular.

Kevin Friedrich performing Mother's Song by Gary Daverne
New Zealand composer Gary Daverne acknowledging Kevin Friedrich

Gary, a qualified secondary schoolteacher in Commerce, was born and educated in Takapuna. He is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and the recipient of many awards including the International Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and the Variety Artist Club of New Zealand’s prestigious ‘Benny Award.’

He grew up as a Rock ‘n’ Roller, playing piano and saxophone in top New Zealand rock groups. In the early ‘60s he started his career as a record producer, achieving several hit records, including one platinum and two gold albums.

In the 70s he was a leading musical arranger and director for Television New Zealand. He is one of New Zealand’s most successful and prolific composers: in the ‘pop’ world, symphonic and accordion music, children’s musicals and creating more than 500 jingles for radio, TV and Film.
All his compositions and recordings are available on his website listed on your program. In addition, on this website midway down the home page, there are a couple of fascinating Youtube videos about Gary’s life and his decades of work with his Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

Today, Gary is known as an International composer and conductor, having directed many of the world’s finest orchestras. He is also known for his encouragement and support of young people, while being musical director of children’s Musical Theatre productions. This is a direct result of him holding the ‘Composer in Schools’ position for two years, under the New Zealand Department of Education.

In 2009, Gary was presented with the, Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA) Honoured Friend of The Accordion Award, for his outstanding contributions to the accordion movement.


I had the great privilege of creating this project as a musical blessing to honour the Centennial Commemorations of the ANZAC movement in 2015. I mentioned to Gary that we needed approximately 15 minutes of ‘New Zealand’ music to accompany a multimedia presentation.

We spent over a year recruiting pictures of local servicemen and women and combined with footage of war times as well as New Zealand itself, I called upon Gary to work his magic and create the music to accompany it. As part of the trip to the Czech Republic to record Gem of the Kaipara, Gary was also recording a stunning work called Gallipoli for Trumpet Solo and Orchestra. Gary used the themes from this beautiful work and went on to provide his original music as the centrepiece for this moving tribute. My thanks to Ken Cashin who put together this presentation and the result was a stunning multimedia tribute to the ANZAC movement, which today of course, embraces all service personnel.

We have now recorded the soundtrack in the Studio including the narrations and vocals from my dear Aunty Barb and Lionel. That is the track on the CD. We are now in the process of re-working the video aspect for an online presentation, but for now, we are proud to screen the original ANZAC Trilogy as presented in 2015.

Screen Shots from Archive footage
Top: Kevin performing The ANZAC Trilogy
Above left: Barbara Adams, Narrator - Above right: Lionel Reekie and Kevin Friedrich

This work was composed for three of Lionel Reekie’s students and premiered by them in Auckland. It was later arranged for string ensemble and accordion orchestra, the accordion arrangement being premiered in Dallas, Texas, March 2019, with Lionel conducting the National Accordion Association’s Festival Orchestra.

This work was chosen for the 2019 unveiling of the unique ANZAC Accordion commissioned from Dargaville mosaic artist Kim Harrison, in honour of all New Zealand Servicemen and women. The work was initially part of a series of pieces ‘Two Plus One’ meaning two accordions and one other instrument. That reference, two plus one, also relates to the beginning of ANZAC movement when Australia and New Zealand fought together under the British Empire.

Kevin presenting the ANZAC accordion by Mosaic artist Kim Harrison
The ANZAC Accordion by Mosaic artist - Kim Harrison
Kevin Friedrich, Lionel and Elena Reekie performing Song of Peace by Gary Daverne

Celebration Toast of “The Journey” CD
It is my privilege to propose a Celebration Toast to the exciting release of the CD titled “The Journey” by our very own Kevin Friedrich.

The creation of a CD of the very highest quality like “The Journey” is a major musical endeavour.

In typical Kevin Friedrich fashion he obtained the finest of skilled help by co-opting the superbly experienced composer, arranger and record producer Gary Daverne to “The Journey” CD project. In further typical Kevin Friedrich fashion, the CD is a musical endeavour that reflected the strong New Zealand heritage of both Kevin and Gary Daverne.

Look at the titles of the music and how they reflect the New Zealand / Northland homely way of life.

Fireside Fantasies, Gem of the Kaipara in memory of Dargaville’s beloved Jenny Cocurullo, Day of Aranga, Song of the Far North, Song of Peace and the masterpiece ANZAC Trilogy, finishing with “This is Our Home” all featuring the compositions of New Zealands favourite composer, Gary Daverne.

The CD performers include the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Moravian Philharmonic Czech Republic, musicians you have heard today Elena and Lionel Reekie and of course, in every track, Dargaville’s world renowned Kevin Friedrich.

A lot of people need thanking for the creation of the superb “The Journey” CD.

First must come Valerie and Athol Friedrich and all Kevin's family for their huge support over so many years. Thanks next to Gary Daverne for his skills of the highest internationallevel and for his enormous hours of work in composing such wonderful music and also the recording and production, all of which shows why Gary Daverne received his ONZM Award for his contribution to New Zealand.

Finally, thanks to the support of the Dargaville and Kaipara communites for supporting so well, Kevin Friedrich and his musical activities, all of which are for your own local community.
The Dargaville and Kaipara communities and family support have been the artistic backbone of the amazing Kevin Friedrich as he has represented you all, over many years with great distinction far and wide, all over the world.

Lets all raise our glasses in thank you and in a Celebration Toast to a new musical masterpiece: “The Journey” CD. Thank you.

Harley Jones
Public Relations Manager
Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA


  Above left: Harley Jones presenting his speech - Above right: Kevin Friedrich, Gary Daverne and Harley Jones at the reception
Kevin with lifelong friends Fiona Managh (Cocurullo), Susan Garratt (Brown), Gary Daverne (composer) and Lorraine Neilsen (Taylor)
Kevin with daughters of his original teachers Ben and Doreen Emmett
Linda Emmett Litt and Joan Emmett Brown

Kevin and Gary signing CDs for musican and collaborator on the CD, Elena Reekie
Kevin and Gary autographing the CDs
Kevin with Elena and Lionel Reekie with the ANZAC accordion for which they performed Song of Peace by Gary Daverne for the unveiling
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