Choir’s fine sound, versatility warmly received

David Squire conducts the New Zealand Youth Choir during a performance at St Paul’s Cathedral in ...
David Squire conducts the New Zealand Youth Choir during a performance at St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin on Saturday. Photo: Linda Robertson
The New Zealand Youth Choir, directed by David Squire and deputy music director Michael Stewart, is an excellent-sounding and versatile choir with many fine solo voices, and deservedly received a rare standing ovation from a large audience in St Paul’s Cathedral.

The choir’s most  effective songs were those sung from alongside the aisles where the audience could hear the sequence of parts as they overlapped each other: an antiphonal surround sound.  The ability of  individual  choristers to stand alone in this way is exceptional. The ethereal Flame (2013) by Ben Parry, a contemporary British composer, was beautifully captivating.

Mendelssohn’s Kyrie and  Heilig, Orlando Lassus’ Aurora Lucis Rutilat and the encore piece Cole Porter’s Everytime We Say Goodbye achieved superior effect through having the parts so directly sung over the audience.

Mathew Recio’s sibilant How to Survive Vesuvius (2015), while sung with commitment through its tight harmonies, did not carry well in the  cathedral. Leonie Holmes’ Through Coiled Stillness (2011) casts an engrossing primeval light on New Zealand bush.

Two traditional gospel songs,  Soon-ah Will Be Done and There is a Balm in Gilead, completed the choir’s wide repertoire but did not show  it at  its best. Holst’s arrangement of the traditional English song I Love my Love was beautifully delivered.

Robert Lucas de Pearsall’s 19th-century work Great God of Love was delivered warmly. New Zealander Rosa Elliott’s Those Others 2015 is a fine composition with delicate piano accompaniment.

Tuirina Wehi’s lament  Waerenga-A-Hika, commemorating the  New Zealand Wars battle of 1865,   arranged by Robert Wiremu, was perhaps the most heartfelt, strongly and proudly delivered by the choir standing  shoulder-to-shoulder.  

- Marian Poole


New Zealand Youth Choir

St Paul’s Cathedral, Saturday, April 28

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