Singing for joy
Review: Teapot Valley Summer School Choir , Old St John's, Sunday 22 January 2017
This is the 17th year the Teapot Valley Summer Choir School has attracted amateur singers from all over New Zealand for a week of choral workshops culminating in a public concert.
The conductor this year, UK-based Ben Parry, a newcomer to Teapot Valley, has a prodigious record of choral musicianship.
Under his baton, the choir of 48 singers, coached by Carmel Carroll, competently overcame the challenges of a diverse and captivating programme, starting with Rejoice in the Lamb by Benjamin Britten, crisply articulated across the full dynamic range of the human voice.
A short, more delicate work entitled Song, based on a Christina Rosetti poem, composed by Christopher Artley, led into the artfully conceived work Seven Goodly Reasons to Sing, written by conductor Parry to the words of Garth Bardsley. Following a Prologue this opus encompasses a wide spectrum of musical creativity to express the emotive elements of Cacophony, Mind Melt, Lullaby, Patter, Sadness, Protest and Love.
A second short work by Artley to the words of David Calder Hartley entitled The NZ Bush, featured sparkling solo performances from Lillian Gibbs, Emily Hamilton and Morgan Carroll and led into the final well-known work, Requiem, by French composer Gabriel Fauré, in which soprano Angela Wratt and baritone Samuel Downes consummately performed the solo parts.
As in previous years Jonathan Berkahn expertly tamed the Old St. John's organ whose well-worn mechanics were disconcertingly audible during quieter passages.
Enthusiastic applause confirmed that the audience were highly appreciative of yet another satisfying musical experience.