Voices in Harmony, Octapella in Concert. Suter Theatre, Saturday, November 17.
"We give praise to all those who give some small voice to the everyday joy of the soul," wrote Michael Leunig.
I am full of praise for Saturday night's concert, which was by no means "some small voice", but was certainly full of joy for the audience and for the singers, and it was very good for the soul.
The concert marked the 10th anniversary of local group Octapella. These years of experience and dedicated rehearsals resulted in a performance of quality, assuredness and pleasure, in which all nine members demonstrated their individual skills, but at all times were conscious of the need to blend their voices.
Sensitively microphoned and monitored by Bob Bickerton this "blending" gave an appropriate balance to the four-part harmonies.
It gave the syncopated rhythm of the basses in the swing songs like Ruby Ruby, Oh Boy and Hand It Over a joie de vivre.
An a capella group, Octapella performed a wide range of musical delights. Unaccompanied except for a few well-chosen musical instruments, songs ranged from world music to swing.
The supportive and enthusiastic audience was given a taste of the music of various countries, including Cuba, Georgia, the United States, Britain and, of course, Africa.
The concert began with a solemn waiata Ma Wai Ra, a plea for aroha and the subsequent songs were indeed full of aroha.
A very poised and charming Jenny Daniell reached out to her audience with a polished performance of Ruby Ruby and a lively Pata Pata.
The beguiling voice of Alani Denton led several songs, from the Wexford Lullaby to In This Heart, a Sinead O'Connor number. Her sweet sounds accompanied by some crunchy chords gave this song a haunting quality.
Very ably led by Shannel Courtney, his own arrangement of Leunig's poem and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was a polished gem.
The group acknowledged Shannel's leadership and it was well deserved. He exuded warmth and a quiet professional control, which was no more evident than in the encore when he good-humouredly got his exuberant basses back on track.
Inventive lighting and a veritable forest of greenery made for pleasant viewing but, at the end of the night, the pleasure came from watching this articulate and capable group of singers giving and gaining pleasure from a confident and professional performance. It was a pleasure to attend and a pleasure to review this concert.
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