Choir in excellent form for Madden’s farewell

The Dunedin Town Hall was well filled on Monday evening for this year’s final concert by the Royal Dunedin Male Choir.

The choir was in excellent form, conducted by Richard Madden QSM in what is the end of an era as Madden retires after 20 years, 19 as musical director.

He received the choir’s Golden Lyre award, together with a presentation and appropriate comments from president Peter Keddell. Judy Bellingham was also officially welcomed to the position of patron of the Royal Dunedin Male Choir.

The programme comprised Madden’s favourites from past years. Linda Folland and David Burchell (organ) accompanied and the compere for the evening was Lyn Murray.

I felt the choir was very much at ease with the familiarity of the music, determined to give of its very best.

Some highlights were the power-packed delivery with organ of An American Trilogy, an unusual setting with many modulations (well done, tenors) of It is Well With My Soul and a passionate, harmonically blended rendition of The Lord’s Prayer.

I Dreamed a Dream featured soloist Grant Aitchison (from 1st bass ranks).

Operatic favourites came with a dynamically riveting Speed Your Journey (Verdi) and guest appearance of international baritone Martin Snell, Madden’s longtime friend who travelled from Europe to honour him with arias by Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Rossini.

Sandra Crawshaw accompanied and also presented two excellent pianoforte solos.

The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral (conductor Diccon Sim) achieved impressive ecclesiastical timbre with excellent balance in several a capella seasonal numbers. Other guests were The Star Singers (conductor Rosemary Tarbotton) and Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass Band (conductor Michael Grant).

They performed individual brackets and a definite favourite was the combined choirs in a big rollicking sound for The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Richard Madden’s farewell choice, accompanied by organ and band, was Alwyn Humphreys’ arrangement of What Would I do Without My Music? — a sentiment with which I totally agree.

-By Elizabeth Bouman

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