A celebration of song

JUDITH RITCHIE
Last updated 12:38 22/01/2014
Benjamin Black Goldsmiths
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

READY TO SING: Visiting Danish conductor Ebbe Munk, right, with James Corcraighe and Angela Wratt.

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James Corcraighe has sung since he was 5 years old, plays the saxophone, guitar and violin, and describes himself as a multi-instrumentalist.

Last year he sang a 10-minute solo in the Fantasia on Christmas Carols, with the Nelson Civic Choir.

This year will be his second time attending the Summer School of Music of Shining Light at Teapot Valley, a ten-day intensive choral workshop for singers who have gathered from around the country. The workshops finish with a concert in Motueka on Saturday and one in Nelson on Sunday.

"My vocal teacher recommended the summer school as a very good experience," says James. "Over the ten days it's amazing what you can do, learning so much and making friends with people I will never forget."

At 16 years old, stage shows have been a big part of life for James while at Waimea College, with lead roles in recent productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. This year he intends auditioning for West Side Story.

"I'll always be involved in music, and musical theatre, it's got a whole lot of freedom," says James. "Singing and acting is fantastic."

As far as the summer school goes, he may on the spur of the moment audition for one of two scholarships on offer. This would fund a return trip to England to attend an Easter residental course with the United Kingdom National Youth Choir in 2014 or 2015.

Angela Wratt from Upper Moutere was home schooled and now at 22, works in Wakefield.

After learning piano she joined the New Zealand Combined Choir with her mother in 2005. Last year Angela sang solo in Faure's Requiem with the Nelson Civic Choir.

"It was great, my first proper performance at the Nelson School of Music."

This year, her eighth summer school, she plans to sing for the scholarship, after having singing lessons for less than 18 months. Her ambition is to get into the New Zealand Youth Choir.

"I'll always be doing something with music, like solos, theatre," she says. "I'll just see where life takes me."

Conductor and choir master for the Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir, Ebbe Munk has returned to Nelson this year for the fourth time to conduct the Summer School of Music of Shining Light and two concerts this weekend.

Rehearsals started on the first night of the summer school when Munk got to hear the strengths and challenges of the choir. Munk says attending the summer school is all about discipline and motivation.

"The atmosphere is extremely unique, you give what you have and make the best out of it," he says. "The magic part is the music, people want to get into it as deep as they can."

He is passionate about this year's chorister programme, Shining Light, particularly Lux Aeterna, which symbolises eternal light.

"Lux Aeterna is about eternal light, how do we live with light in our soul? It means that we cannot live without something to believe in," he says.

"A major theme is birth and death, but it closes very positively, it's a mask about life, the light and the life we lead and the trust that when it ends, God will be there."

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The concert begins with Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna, and closes with Eric Whitacre's Alleluia. Edward Elgar's Great is the Lord is also on the programme.

Judy Bellingham will again act as vocal teacher during the summer school and Jonathan Berkahn will accompany the choir on piano.

Next year Munk will return to New Zealand bringing a selected group of choristers from the Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir. The tour includes Dunedin, Wanaka, Wellington, Auckland and a concert in Nelson on April 27, 2015.

In Denmark the full choir would comprise 100 boys and 30 men, while the tour in New Zealand will showcase a smaller group of 30 boys and 16 men, a pianist, organist and harpist.

The programme is from the Italian Renaissance, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Danish composer Carl Nielsen, best known for his collection of Danish folk songs.

  • Summer School of Music, Shining Light Concert, Motueka Memorial Hall, Motueka, Saturday, 7.30pm and Old St. John's, Hardy St, Nelson, 2pm Sunday, tickets from Nelson Building Society, Trafalgar St, Nelson $15, or $20 at door.

- Nelson

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