Our concerts 2021
Sunday 11 April 2021
Workshop and Concert
Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua
Oganised by Orchestra Wellington
Similar to last year’s Beethoven Birthday Bash, we’ll combine with Orchestra Wellington and other choirs and instrumental groups to perform famous choral repertoire.
Saturday 22 May 2021 (7.30pm)
Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
We join Orchestra Wellington for a virtuoso evening.
Cantata Profana — BÉLA BARTÓK
Carmina Burana — CARL ORFF
Béla Bartók’s large-scale Cantata Profana written for tenor, baritone, double mixed choir and orchestra tells the story of a father and his nine sons, who go out to hunt a stag but are themselves transformed into deer in the process. The work, subtitled “The Magical Deer”, was written in 1930 and inspired by Romanian Christmas stories, using pagan and mythological motifs to combine natural, didactic and symbolic elements in the story. The strictly rhythmic narration of the choir and the sharp, melismatic statements of the soloists form a multi-facetted contrast.
Carmina Burana opens with one of the most famous passages in classical music as the massed choir chants “O Fortuna” at full volume over an accompaniment of orchestral power chords while the timpani pound out a beat like the engine room of the Titanic. It would be a jaded listener indeed who could resist this excitement.But the work offers a great deal more than that. Orff chose a variety of texts ranging
from witty to wistful from the Codex Buranus, a curious collection of 11th century
Latin poems found in a Bavarian monastery.
They were written by medieval monks who were well-travelled, worldly, educated and
rather subversive. Their poems celebrate the arrival of Spring, the pleasures of wine,
riotous tavern scenes and the joys and sorrows of love. Orff’s music sparkles with
imagination and theatricality, contrasting exquisite vocal solos with powerful orchestral and choral climaxes.
Saturday 7 August 2021 (7.30pm)
Wellington Cathedral of Saint Paul
Sunday 8 August 2021
Venue and time to be confirmed
Hopkins — Parry — MacMillan — Whitacre — Artley — Symanowski
Past Life Melodies — the opening melody came to Sarah Hopkins during a time of deep grief and immediately it was a melody of profound connection, known and remembered, as though it were a song from a past lifetime. “The aboriginal inspired chant sang through me in Darwin, as if there was an old aboriginal woman chanting deep inside me.” Past Life Melodies includes a section of “harmonic overtone singing” where individual voices sing two notes at the same time: a low note and a very high and ethereal tone.
I Was Glad — Sir Hubert Parry’s ridiculously glorious anthem I Was Glad has appeared at almost every major ceremony for the British Royal family since its composition in 1902. Again, the metaphor of Jerusalem both as England and as Heaven are apparent, and the petition-”pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” intended as a prayer for England herself.
James MacMillan’s A New Song is a short and effective anthem which combines a number of stylistic elements including inflections of both Scottish ballads and plainsong. It is simply constructed in ABABA from with a wonderfully positive organ postlude that ideally needs an instrument with sizeable resources to be properly effective. It has Taveneresque pedal points that are also reminiscent of bagpipe drones. The vocal parts in the imitative B sections include MacMillan’s favourite kind of vocal ornamentation — a notated quick-fire turn with varying numbers of notes.
Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre is a shimmering example of the composer’s trademark close-knit harmonies, this also represents one of his “contemporary Latin” settings: here, of Charles Anthony Silvestri’s Latin translation of a poem in English by the (otherwise obscure) Edward Esch, which attracted Whitacre for its “genuine, elegant simplicity.”
Also by Whitacre, Little Birds is an homage to Gabriel Faure, with its running piano part and fluid sensual melodies. At the end of the piece the conductor claps his/her hands and all of the singers shake a piece of white paper into the air, emulating the sound of a tree full of birds taking flight.
I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes by New Zealand Composer Chris Artley (NZ composer) — broad melodic arches and an enchanting sensuousness of sound characterize Chris Artley’s setting of Psalm 121. He sets the choir, the individual groups of voices as well as organ and trumpet ad lib in relationship to each other in an impressively atmospheric manner. It is a moving concert piece that will immediately fascinate the audience.
Stabat Mater by Karol Szymanowski is characterized by his use of Polish melodies and rhythms. Following a trip to Zakopane in 1922, Szymanowski wrote of Polish folk music: “[it] is enlivening by its proximity to Nature, by its force, by its directness of feeling, by its undisturbed racial purity.” Szymanowski’s pairing of Polish musical elements with a liturgical text in Stabat Mater is unique.
Saturday 27 November 2021 (7.30pm)
Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
Self-presented concert accompanied by Orchestra Wellington
We are proud to bring this monumental masterpiece to the Michael Fowler Centre accompanied by Orchestra Wellington. In this work, Bach becomes a museum director, surveying his collection and building the most beautiful exhibition of his life.
The B Minor Mass is, without doubt, one of the greatest musical achievements of all time. In this one work, you will experience an abundance of different forms and genres, including his older renaissance to his modern 18th-century style. Bach includes solo voices, single and double choruses, duets and duets that develop into quartets. Bach also shows off the orchestra with superb concerti grossi.
There was no obligation for Bach to compose this work. Unlike his ‘Passions’, no one paid him for it. This makes its purpose unique and so special. The Mass was mostly composed at the end of his life, without Bach ever having the opportunity to hear it. Was this work a thank you to God, or was it intended for the future of music makers and lovers? Perhaps he had one final desire to compose the highest work before he died? Well, he certainly did that — it is utter perfection.
Joining Orpheus is a superb line-up of soloists:
- Sopranos Emma Pearson and Jenny Wollerman
- Alto Maaike Christie-Beekman
- Tenor Declan Cudd
- Bass Wade Kernot