Performance of Elijah 'epic'

01:38, Nov 12 2014

Mendelssohn's Elijah Nelson Civic Choir with top of the south combined choirs Nelson Cathedral, Saturday Reviewed by Jo Say

The oratorio Elijah by Mendelssohn is a magnificent work and a hugely ambitious choice for any choir to undertake.

Nelson Civic Choir was joined by members of the Marlborough Singers, Motueka Choir and the Golden Bay Choir.

Playing before a packed Nelson cathedral audience, this performance was epic in many ways: Four choirs, two conductors, around 100 performers and a biblical narrative full of dramatic and vividly depicted scenes of despair, terror, hopelessness, violence and ultimately salvation.

Elijah was written in 1846 and we can clearly see the influence of Victorian theatrical melodrama and sentimentality.

Baritone Robert Tucker sang the part of Elijah. His voice was commanding and expressive. His voice filled the cathedral with a lyrical strength that perfectly fitted the role. His solo of It Is Enough showcased a technically excellent and emotionally rich voice.

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In the first half he was joined by soprano Zoe Bennett for duet Thou Shall Love The Lord Thy God With All Thy Heart and it was a great joy to hear these two contrasting wonderful voices together.

I appreciated having the solo soprano Caroline Harvey singing in the upstairs balcony at the back of the church: She sang the part of an angel comforting Elijah. Her beautiful voice floated unexpectedly above our heads. It was a magical moment.

Musical director Nancy Woolford is to be highly commended for bringing together singers from four different choirs and producing a cohesive and impressive performance. She was joined on stage by principal conductor Carl Browning. The company was accompanied by organist Jonathan Berkahn.

Clearly well rehearsed, the large chorus tackled the huge work with gusto. I particularly loved the closing number And Then Shall Your Light Break Forth: Its soaring, celebratory composition was both majestic and uplifting. It was a triumphant end to a choral tour de force.

The Nelson Mail