Showing posts with label Verdi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Verdi. Show all posts

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Grief to Joy, Music for Easter

Grief to Joy, Music for Easter
Saturday 7 April 2018, 7:30 pm
Knox Church, 449 George Street, Dunedin

CLAIRE BARTON, mezzo-soprano
DSO ensemble

City Choir presented music to celebrate the hope and renewal that is the promise of Easter.

We welcomed the Main Street Singers from Los Altos, California, and their director and conductor, Mark Andrew Shaull. The Main Street Singers contributed a selection of choral music to the programme. Currently celebrating the ensemble's Thirty Third Anniversary Season, the Main Street Singers continues to perform a wide variety of works, ranging from Renaissance to Contemporary. The acclaimed group's accomplishments have been earmarked by consistently high caliber of repertoire, performed with expressive skill and musical nuance. 
Main Street Singers

City Choir Dunedin performed three works:

Bach's Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (Rejoice, your hearts) is a cantata composed for the second day of Easter, and first performed in 1724. Bach structured the cantata in six movements, an exuberant choral opening, a set of recitative and aria for bass, another such set for alto and tenor, and a closing chorale taken from the medieval Easter hymn Christ ist erstanden. The music expresses moods of mourning and fear which should be overcome, but especially exhilarating joy. A string ensemble from the DSO will join the organ for this work.

Guiseppe Verdi's Stabat Mater (1896) is a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary, which portrays her anguish and suffering as Jesus Christ's mother during his crucifixion. Verdi used his operatic skills to set the drama of Christ's crucifixion, mirroring the words with the full chorus thundering anger at the crucifixion. The mood changes at the end where the high voices sing an ascending pattern in the sublime closing Paradisi gloria.

Lo, the full, final sacrifice is a festival anthem for choir and organ, composed by Gerald Finzi in 1946. The anthem's text memorializes the celebration of the Eucharist. Regarded as some of Finzi's finest music, the expressive lines, colourful accompaniment and dramatic choral writing make this a great favourite in the choral repertoire. The first chorus entry has been described as 'magical', and the closing eight-part Amen is one of the most remarkable and poignant pieces of choral writing of its period.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Performance a triumph


"The soft opening passages of choral texture with orchestra melded as one, with long sustained release of "m's" ending the word "Requiem" exquisitely effective." ...
"Spine-tingling choral highlights were numerous, and the recurring crescendo descending scale passages in the Dies irae saw Direcotr David Burchell's vision for the choir realise fulfilment on this occasion."

Review by Elizabeth Bouman, The Star, 4 July 2013.

Verdi Requiem, 27 June 2013, Town Hall at the Dunedin Centre.
NZSO with City Choir Dunedin, conducted by Pietari Inkinen

(Click image to enlarge)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Requiem still thrills for Verdi's 200th birthday


Verdi's Messa da Requiem, Lisa Harper-Brown, Margaret Medlyn, Rosario La Spina, Judd Arthur, Orpheus Choir, Members of City Choir Dunedin, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pietari Inkenen, Michael Fowler Centre, Saturday 29 June 2013.
Reviewed for the Dominion Post by John Button.

"The Verdi Requiem is an immensely popular work and the Fowler Centre was predictably very full for this tingling performance."

Correction: City Choir Dunedin sent 60 singers to the performances in Auckland and Wellington, and 80 singers to Christchurch. City Choir had 140+ singers in Dunedin.

Other reviews of the Wellington performance:

Rachel Hyde on Radio NZ Concert Upbeat, 1 July 2013

Tremendous panache from performers in Verdi’s epic Requiem by Frances Robinson for Middle C

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cruelty of mortality thrillingly expressed


One hundred and fifty years and many reincarnations later, the City Choir Dunedin might deserve a less backhanded tribute from the Dunedin City Council but, as one reflection of the city, endures as a powerful statement of European culture in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Their celebration of this feat was greatly enhanced by joining forces with the NZSO under the direction of Pietari Inkinen. The excellence of the performance was not lost on the crowded house, which gave thunderous prolonged applause with shouts and stamping feet as if to crack the Dunedin Town Hall’s floorboards. 

Verdi’s Requiem is an astonishingly unnerving work, replete with the mystery and Christian fear of death. Rising from the murky quiet of “Kyrie”, “Dies Irae” [The Wrath of God] unleashes a doomsday thunder. Siren screams and the tight trills of Satan’s seduction illustrate what awaits the dying. Although there are occasional lighter moments in “Sanctus”, a statement of piety, “Agnus Dei” [Lamb of God] and “Lux Eterna” [Eternal Light], this is a grim work of highly gothic Romanticism. It revels in beautiful terror and has intensely chilling power. Put briefly, it is a highly successful expression of the cruelty of human mortality. 

All sections of Orchestra and Choir were notable for the supreme dedication to creating an excellent performance, although some the Choir’s fugal passages would have gained more moment through a greater show of confidence. 

The soloists, soprano Lisa Harper-­Brown, mezzo-soprano Margaret Medlyn, tenor Rosario La Spina and bass Judd Arthur produced some spell-binding, delicate and blockbuster moments. Special mention has to go to the impeccably beautiful ensemble work in “Lacrimosa” [Weeping], Harper-Brown and Medlyn’s truly glorious duet “Recordare” [Remember] and to Harper-­Brown’s dramatically compelling “Libera Me” [Deliver Me]. 

One wonders what else we can expect from future collaborations between the imperial forces of the NZSO and City Choir Dunedin.

Review by Marian Poole, Otago Daily Times, 28 June 2013.

Verdi Requiem, 27 June 2013, Dunedin Town Hall.
NZSO with City Choir Dunedin, conducted by Pietari Inkinen

Audience comments: 
'Absolutely spine-tingling'
'I've never sat so still for so long, it was riveting'
'Brilliant and amazing!'
'Thank you that was fantastic. You are lucky being able to do it all again.'
'Watched everything closely, you guys never missed a step.'
'Electrifying concert last night in Dunedin everyone!! Well done!!'
'Thoroughly wonderful evening. Kind regards and my commendations to all in your "Big Sing" hearts and minds in harmony...'

"'Requiem' by NZSO, city choir wonderful" - reads the headline of the Civis column in the ODT on Saturday 6 July. "Last week's performance of Verdi's 'Requiem' by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and City Choir Dunedin was outstanding: dramatic and exciting for a large audience... And there was an eerie sensation when trumpets sounded from the door just behind us, answering those in the opposite circle doorway, and in the orchestra. The performance was deeply moving, and a magnificent way to celebrate the choir's sesquicentennial. Congratulations to the choir, and to David Burchell, its Director."

And here's another report, this time by Mike Crowl, who also enjoyed the Dunedin performance.

Were you there? What did you think of the performance? Leave a comment here or send us an email to - we'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ethereal magic in sacred work


"The opening, fragile and barely audible, was magical, setting the scene for the whole performance, secure and sensively shaped by Pietari Inkenen" says David Sell in The Press.

Verdi Requiem, 26 June 2013, Canterbury CBS Areana, Christchurch. NZSO with Christchurch City Choir and members of City Choir Dunedin, conducted by Pietari Inkinen

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Verdi concert welcome ray of sunshine


"Pietari Inkenen created a mood of appropriate serenity while the combined voices of Auckland Choral and Dunedin's City Choir moved smoothly, within seconds, from whispered testaments of faith to rousing a capella.

The great hurled cries of the Dies Irae were spectacular, against the orchestra's sonic fire and brimstone."

Reviewed by William Dart for the NZ Herald.

Verdi's Messa da Requiem, with soloists Lisa Harper-Brown, Margaret Medlyn, Rosario La Spina, Judd Arthur, Auckland Choral, 60 members of City Choir Dunedin, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pietari Inkenen, Auckland Town Hall, Saturday 22 June 2013.

Other reviews of the Auckland performance:

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and a star tenor shine in Verdi's Requiem in Auckland by Simon Holden

The day of judgment by Rod Bliss in The Listener of 6-12 July 2013 (click to view larger size):

Monday, April 1, 2013

Calling Dunedin singers for Verdi rehearsals

Verdi Requiem with the NZSO

Saturday 22 June 7:30 pm – Town Hall, Auckland
Wednesday 26 June 7:00 pm – CBS Arena, Christchurch
Thursday 27 June 6:30 pm – Dunedin Town Hall
Saturday 29 June 7:30 pm – Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

The Choir is thrilled to have been invited by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to perform one of the greatest works in the choral repertoire, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. Not only are we performing this huge, powerful and moving work with the NZSO in Dunedin, but the Choir will also travel with the orchestra to the other main centres, and join with Auckland Choral Society, The Orpheus Choir of Wellington and Christchurch City Choir in their respective performances.

The Choir performed the Verdi Requiem during our Centenary in 1963, so this opportunity is very fitting for City Choir Dunedin's 150th anniversary celebration.

We invite singers from Dunedin to join City Choir, especially for the performance in Dunedin. Rehearsals are starting on Tuesday 2 April and anyone is welcome to audition for the Verdi choir. Rehearsals are on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. Please note that a bond of $25 will be required for the music score. We would be pleased to welcome you at the Mornington Presbyterian Community Centre, 16 Maryhill Terrace, Mornington, Dunedin.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Verdi Requiem

For your enjoyment, here is one of the world's greatest and most exquisite choral works, Verdi's Requiem.

Soloists:  Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossoto, Luciano Pavarotti, Nikolai Ghiaurov

Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan

Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gypsies for the Proms

City of Dunedin Choir is looking forward to singing this opera chorus with the Southern Sinfonia at the Last Night of the Proms concert on 22 September!

The Anvil Chorus is the English term for the Coro di zingari (Italian Gypsy chorus), a piece of music from Act 2, Scene 1 of Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore (The Troubador, 1853) which depicts Spanish Gypsies striking their anvils at dawn – hence its English name – and singing the praises of hard work, good wine, and their Gypsy women. Most recordings will list this as Vedi! Le fosche notturne.

See how the clouds melt away
from the face of the sky when the sun shines, its brightness beaming;
just as a widow, discarding her black robes,
shows all her beauty in brilliance gleaming.
So, to work now!
Lift up your hammers!
Who turns the Gypsy's day from gloom to brightest sunshine?
His lovely Gypsy maid!

Fill up the goblets! New strength and courage
flow from lusty wine to soul and body.
See how the rays of the sun play and sparkle
and give to our wine gay new splendor.
So, to work now!
Who turns the Gypsy's day from gloom to brightest sunshine?
His lovely Gypsy maid!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Skiving off City Choir to sing in Wellington

I've a confession to make.

I wasn't at City Choir on Tuesday because I was in Wellington on holiday. Naughty me.

Send me to the naughty corner. No dessert tonight.

However...I did take the chance, while there, to sing with the wonderful Orpheus Choir.

They're performing the Verdi Requiem this weekend, so I got the chance to sight-sing the fugues (and everything else) at full speed, with no preparation! What fun!

I've done the Verdi before, but it was nearly a decade ago, and as a second Alto. So the First Soprano line was new to me.

We also sang the Polovtsian Dances, another piece I'd done before as an Alto, but not as a Soprano. And straight after rehearsal I had to text my great mate Philip Legge to tell him they were using his score from the CPDL. He was pleased to hear it.

I had a whale of a time. The Orpheus Choir made me very welcome, and my fellow Sopranos said they'd love to welcome any City Choir members who happen to venture up to Wellington and have a spare Tuesday night.

They rehearse from 7:30 to 9:30, same as us.

Anyway, while I was there, between a few sopranos and myself we hatched a very tentative and cunning plan to do a massed choir performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio in Wellington sometime soon.

Maybe next year, if we can convince David and Michael Fulcher (their conductor). We haven't mentioned the idea to either of the men yet, but I guess this blog post is shoving the idea out into the open, isn't it? Hehehe.

Orpheus sopranos are aching to do the Bach, and were apparently quite jealous when they heard we sang the piece last year.

You can read about my adventures in Wellington in full at my blog, The Chorister - here's a link to the post Get your Wellies on - and sing!

So yes, I was naughty. I wasn't at City Choir. But I DID attend rehearsal!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Russian Requiem

"Verdi Requiem in Moscow September 2008"

The words sprang at me last year from the newsletter of the World Festival Choir. St Petersburg! Moscow! Verdi! I could piggyback all this on a visit to UK grandchildren! All I had to do was find a few hundred euros over the next year! I sent the deposit to headquarters in Norway and blew the dust off my practice tapes.

A year later singers from around the world emerged into a grey St Petersburg. Most were from Scandinavia, many from Europe and the USA; sixty-three from Australia, thirteen from New Zealand.

At breakfast we slid filled rolls into handbags for lunch. Water had to be bought, for drinking and teeth-cleaning.

With a free day, we stoked up on roubles - 17 to the NZ dollar - and headed for the splendour of The Hermitage - the first of our two visits. Back at the hotel we had no sooner kicked off our shoes than it was time to put them on again for the first of four rehearsals - up to five hours duration, the last on the afternoon of the concert.

The 80-strong Academic Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg Philharmonic was in full swing as we shuffled upstairs to wait. The Shostakovic Hall was white, pillared, with a thousand elegant red chairs and eight huge chandeliers. The orchestra took up the whole stage except for five narrow planks at the back. Surely not! Oh yes! Two hundred and thirty bodies were to squeeze onto these! Not a hope of sitting down in the long solo bits. Grace, from rural NSW, and I nabbed a spot on the floor in front where we wouldn't wobble, although Grace did have a tuba in her left ear!

Two young women took our warm-ups. Then we met Maestro Alexander Dimitri. A quietly-spoken, patient man, he took us over and over the beginning, the Libera Me, the Sanctus. Four hours later we staggered back to the hotel for panadeine and port!

Organised sightseeing was fitted around rehearsals. St Petersburg is 10% water - river and canals everywhere. We admired the golden domes of the churches, the grace and symmetry of the old buildings; not the tangle of wires overhead or the interminable roadworks.

A roaming phone proved invaluable and birthday calls came clearly to the back of the bus from Auckland and London. We descended into the earth to the Metro - from a platform flanked by many pairs of black doors. No tracks, no train. A roar, doors open, you cram into the space. We had been warned to beware of thieves so clung tightly to our bags.

Language was a barrier at times. We climbed on a city bus for what should have been a simple journey but ended with us walking the length of Nevski Prospect - the longest street on the planet!

Our first concert received prolonged applause. The Russian soloists were exquisite, but after our long afternoon rehearsal we were united in agony!

Back at the hotel somehow we found energy to join the post-concert frivolity - with items performed by various nationalities.

Next day it was good to be on an eight-hour train ride to Moscow. The amazingly green countryside slid by with glimpses of villages, rivers, dachas, vegie gardens, woodpiles. We'd brought our own food, supplemented by Russian tea from an ancient samovar. The restaurant car with its pretty blue and white curtains served Borsch, coffee, vodka and meals.

At 9pm Moscow's floodlit towers greeted us. Another trek to the bus; another hour to the hotel; registration for over 200 people a nightmare.

Our hotels were comfortable and boasted many restaurants, but we found the service variable. Few staff, long waits; sometimes the restaurant would close mid-course! However, we joined the ten million on the underground and discovered wonderful stations and a large attractive eatery serving cheap Russian food.

Inevitably with such a large group, we were always waiting - for the buses, for food, for a seat, for a loo and a few succumbed to illness and coughs.

Rehearsals and sightseeing meant long days, but the sights were worth it. We marvelled at the churches and paved streets inside the Kremlin walls. Red Square in bright sunshine was so different from the usual gloomy portrayal. Our hotel overlooked a vast motorway lined with lush parkland. Despite an exellent public transport system, cars crawled incessantly towards the distant crop of "highscrapers". Streets, surprisingly, were very clean.

The Tchaikovski Concert Hall was a steeply-raked semi-circle of navy and cream. The huge advertisements made us feel excited and privileged. No more space - this time we peered between double basses of the Moscow Academic Orchestra – but the performance seemed better. Our soloists were stunning and it was a thrill to be with singers from all over the world.

Flying out from Domodedevo airport next day I felt a surge of relief and satisfaction. Back at home the latest newsletter from the World Festival Choir sits on my desk. "Vilnius, European Capital of Culture, Lithuania 2009"! Agony fades, but ecstasy lives on!

Soloists: Veronika Djioeva, soprano, Elena Maksimova, mezzo, Ahmed Agadi, tenor, Nicolai Didenko, bass

Contact may be made to
World Festival Choir, PO Box 2018 N-3202, Sandefjord, Norway
or Lynda Hunter,26 Orr Cres, Lower Hutt

by Diane Wales (Alto)