Tenor's homecoming concert
James Rodgers swaps Carnegie Hall for a church hall in Blenheim on Friday night as he pays tribute to one of his favourite composers.
Rodgers lived in Blenheim during his teenage years, when his father was principal of Marlborough Boys' College, before moving to New York in 2005, where he studied at the Manhattan School of Music.
An accomplished stage performer, Rodgers has performed at some of New York's most famous venues.
He returns to Blenheim this week for a special show at St Andrew's Church, on Henry St, highlighting the career of German composer Kurt Weill, whom he considers one of music history's most gifted theatre writers.
The concert tracks Weill's life from his exile from Nazi Germany to trying to survive as an artist in New York.
Rodgers has already performed the show to crowds in Whanganui, where he grew up, and Wellington, where he went to university.
He was nervous about how the show would be received but people had enjoyed learning about the composer's life.
"Even if you are not overly into classical music, you get to hear an interesting story from an interesting time in history," he said.
"It's one man's experience during a time full of turmoil."
Rodgers said he loved having the opportunity to sing in his different hometowns.
He will be accompanied by his wife, pianist Jillian Zack, whom he met at the Manhattan School of Music.
"We usually have about one project a year together," he said. "We do love performing together but don't like to overdo it, just in case it creates problems.
"We are certainly looking forward to this one."
Marlborough Girls' College student Olivia Sheat, 18, will be singing a duet with Rodgers on Friday.
Olivia said she was excited to be singing alongside the experienced tenor.
"It's a fantastic opportunity. I've learnt so much from him as a musician, he has given me an insight into what the future might be like for me."
The concert will be presented by the Marlborough Music Society.
Secretary Viv Grigg said she expected a packed church hall on Friday with people "squashing into pews".
Tickets to the show cost $25 or $20 for senior citizens and $15 for students.
- The Marlborough Express