Civic Choir rejoice in Rossini

Chris Lukies conducts the Nelson Civic Choir on Sunday at Nelson's Cathedral, performing Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle
Martin De Ruyter/FairfaxNZ

Chris Lukies conducts the Nelson Civic Choir on Sunday at Nelson's Cathedral, performing Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle

Following their memorable trip to New York to sing in Carnegie Hall, the Nelson Civic Choir opens their 2017 Nelson season on Sunday, May 21st with Rossini's sparkling Petite Messe Solennelle, in the wonderful setting of Nelson Cathedral.

The choir is joined in this concert by four accomplished local soloists: Zoe Bennett, soprano, Erica Sim, contralto, Ewen Griffiths, Tenor and Graham O'Brien, Bass.

Conducted by musical director, Chris Lukies, they are accompanied by the musical director of Nelson Cathedral, James Thomas on organ, and Lizzie Peacock on Piano.

Although Rossini is better known for his bubbly comic operas, the Petite Messe, is a serious piece (solennelle), written 30 years after his last opera. It shows off Rossini's lively talent, with some of the passages sounding as though they may have come from operetta. 

The structure intertwines major solo parts with substantial passages for chorus. Compared with Rossini's operas, this work is not often performed, and this concert gives audiences a rare chance to hear a sacred, but not too solemn work by Rossini in the glorious Cathedral setting.

The Civic Choir are also working toward their October 15 concert, fulfilling the promise they made before their New York trip. That was to bring the new Karl Jenkins work, Cantata Memoria,  back to Nelson to share it with their fellow musicians and the wider community.

With singers and instrumentalists from the Top of the South, Christchurch and Wellington, a children's choir and full orchestra, and a specially commissioned video to complement the music, the first New Zealand performance of the Cantata Memoria promises to be an emotional and memorable event.

Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle, Nelson Civic Choir, Nelson Cathedral, Sunday  May 21,  2pm. Tickets from TicketDirect , the Theatre Royal, or at the door.

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