Saturday, August 4, 2018

Jazz Café

Jazz Café
Big choir! Big band! Big night out!

Saturday 6 October 7 for 7:30 pm
Dunedin Town Hall

City Choir Dunedin, conductor: David Burchell
Sophie Morris
Dunedin City Jazz Orchestra, conductor: Calder Prescott
Café Operana
Southern Youth Choir
Dunedin Youth Jazz Orchestra
Swing Riot Dunedin

Enjoy a relaxing evening of fabulously fizzy and swinging jazz at our café. Watch out for bicycles!

City Choir is letting its hair down with an evening of jazz! Experience the Town Hall decked out as a café with lots of atmosphere and cash bars for coffee, wine and snacks. There will even be room to dance for those who get so moved. You may sit or stand, chat to your neighbour, as you please. Come early to get a good seat and enjoy the pre-show entertainment, from 7 pm, by the Dunedin Youth Jazz Orchestra.

City Choir will perform a selection of jazz standards, as well as Alexander L’Estrange’s quirky Song Cycle: vive la Vélorution: songs on the subject of cycling and the great outdoors. It is an exuberant celebration in music of this most environmentally friendly mode of transport. L’Estrange has perfectly captured the euphoria of two-wheel travel for this joyous, uplifting song cycle which includes an amusing take on the invention of the bicycle, as well as stunning new settings of poetry and arrangements of much-loved songs.

City Choir will be accompanied by a jazz quintet and orchestra, while the Swing Riot Dunedin dance group will sizzle on the dance floor and invite you to swing along with them.

This is a general admission, child-friendly, FREE concert in the Dunedin Town Hall. Suggested koha/donation $10 per person. Seating in the stalls is arranged café style at tables and the usual theatre seating in the gallery will be open.

Read more about the fabulous line-up of artists: 

City Choir Dunedin
City Choir Dunedin has been entertaining audiences for over 150 years. Critically acclaimed conductor David Burchell has been Musical Director since 2000 and under David’s baton and direction City Choir performs a wide range of genres, from classical to contemporary, to a very high standard. In 2010 City Choir presented a jazz performance: Zimbe! Come sing the songs of Africa! by Alexander L’Estrange. In the words of the reviewer: “This infectiously joyful and energetic show had the audience clapping along and won all performers a standing ovation.”

Sophie Morris
Sophie Morris is a Dunedin-based singer and actor who has trained in operatic, classical-crossover, musical theatre and contemporary singing at the University of Otago. Sophie has performed sell-out nights of her own concerts “Sophie Goes to Broadway” and “Sophie Morris on Stage” at Allen Hall and the Glenroy respectively. Her début album “Sophie Morris – Songs from the Stage” has been released. Sophie received accolades for her performance with The Ten Tenors on their New Zealand ‘Wish You Were Here’ tour in May and June this year.

Dunedin City Jazz Orchestra
The DCJO was founded in 1988 by Calder Prescott, the present Musical Director. The orchestra has performed in England, at the Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Germany, The Netherlands, the West Coast USA, Sydney, Invercargill, Queenstown, Alexandra, Ranfurly, Oamaru, Christchurch and of course, Dunedin.  The DCJO’s specialty is the music of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and the music of the Swing Era. Calder Prescott MNZM, is a well-known and respected Jazz performer, arranger, conductor and educator. He has led Big Bands in New Zealand continuously since 1956. The DCJO has been described as “one of Dunedin's great musical treasures”.

Café Operana
Featuring Helen Webby on pedal harp, Sophia Bidwell on accordion and Lois Johnston on vocals Café Operana re-create the heady atmosphere of a French Salon in the early 1900's. “These three top-flight artists are clearly serious about their music but combined at Whare Flat Festival to present a light-hearted and delightfully quirky show that skipped from heart-stopping Puccini arias to bravura Eastern European dances to tangos and treats of all descriptions. The audience absolutely loved it! And the dresses were great too...” – Máire Ní Chathasaigh.

Southern Youth Choir
The Southern Youth Choir, directed by Benjamin Madden, was formed in 1992. It is comprised of young singers between the ages of 16 and 25 years; some from secondary schools, most from the University of Otago and some continuing to be members after starting their working lives. The choir, an OUSA affiliated student club, aims to up-skill young singers in the Dunedin region to participate in four-part choral music. Of their “Home and Away” performance in May this year the reviewer, Elizabeth Bouman, said: “The choir achieved impressive blend and contrast of tone…”

Dunedin Youth Jazz Orchestra
Showcasing the best young improvising talent from across Dunedin, this jazz orchestra was formed in 2018 after the successful launch of the Dunedin Youth Jazz Festival in April. The DYJO is a community-based jazz ensemble that caters for school students and adults under the age of 25. Directed by local jazz pianist, Bill Martin, this ensemble performs a variety of jazz standards, as well as original compositions by its members. Having performed successful concerts at Hanover Hall and the Dunedin Public Library, the DYJO is now established as part of the Dunedin jazz scene and will thrill audiences with the energy of its rhythm section and creativity of its horn section.

Swing Riot Dunedin
Swing Riot Dunedin aims to increase the presence of swing dancing in local communities, running events throughout the year. Swing dance is more than just a dance – it’s an era. The term “swing dance” applies to the dances that came out of Harlem, New York in the 1920s with the dance that is now known as Lindy Hop. The dances were heavily influenced by big band jazz and improvisation; in a way, swing dance and jazz music “grew up” together.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gallipoli to the Somme in the UK

Gallipoli to the Somme, London, 13 June 2018  Photo: Ian Thomson
By all accounts the two performances of Anthony Ritchie’s Gallipoli to the Somme at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford on 2 June and at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on 13 June 2018 we brilliant, to say the least. 

Simon Over conductor 
Anna Leese soprano 
Jon Stainsby baritone 
City Choir Dunedin (New Zealand) 
The Parliament Choir 
Southbank Sinfonia 
Concertmaster and solo violin: Tessa Petersen (Dunedin Symphony Orchestra)

It was an honour and a privilege for 30 members of City Choir Dunedin to travel to the opposite end of the world to participate in these performances and enjoy the generous and warm hospitality of the Parliament Choir singers and the Southbank Sinfonia players.


‘The concert was absolutely magnificent and Gallipoli to the Somme a most moving and inventive combination of words and music. Who knew that extracts from war diaries could be such an effective foil against the very varied patchwork of poetry and lyrics. Absolutely incredible and no wonder it got a standing ovation.’ 

Jenny Lewis, poet and author of ‘Taking Mesopotamia’

‘Congratulations to all who conceived and then realised such an aurally, textually and metaphorically even monumentally perfect event with which to end the Series formally (although there remains the poetry evening on Tuesday). It was a superb programme. The Lark Ascending began with unprecedented saxophone accompaniment which didn’t deter the soloist and orchestra one bit, and then ended with real birdsong as the final violin strains faded away – a moment of pure enchantment, so English, so right for the occasion. To my shame, I had never heard of Augusta Holmès, but I loved her orchestral piece, rich and sonorous, uplifting and operatic. As for the Ravel, rarely can a performance have had such poignancy and power, despite the light-hearted nature of some of the movements, generating contrasting emotions which seem to have regularly surfaced during the year. All three pieces were hugely enhanced by Kate Kennedy’s illuminating programme notes. 

However, Anthony Ritchie’s personal, colossal, majestic, ironic, heartbreaking piece was what took all our breath away. The programmatic selection of texts – many of which were little-known and may now become deservedly less so – was itself given new depth through that compelling music, somehow conveying a glimpse of the unfathomable. The symbolism of that violin suddenly became clear to all, too. The bitter juxtaposition of jolliness and catastrophe, of dreams and shattering reality: all was encompassed in the infinite range of vocal, choral and orchestral expression. On a personal note, Vive la Compagnie! brought back to mind a performance of the stirring original for male voices that I had conducted early in my career, without, of course, knowing anything of its being sung just before the Battle of the Somme. Last night’s version was overwhelming, the utterly unexpected disintegration of both words and music at the end evocative of the end of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony or Das Lied von der Erde, in both of which words and music, finally, give way to silence, because that’s all we are left with. And to close with that intimate setting of Ataturk’s embracing, almost comforting sentiments was nothing short of 

My apologies for rambling. I will not be the only one to have been profoundly affected by last night, and not least by the UK-NZ cooperation with all its symbolism.’ 

John Dunstan, musician and educator