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Te Vaka was happy to oblige, but first the band introduced the audience to several of its non-Moana songs and dances. These left the children just a little restless — this wasn’t what they came for — while the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra sat patiently.
However, the half dozen opening songs and dances were terrific. They throbbed with energy from the singers, dancers and musicians, and showed the sheer vitality of this well-established group. But where was Moana? Finally she arrived. The atmosphere changed hugely. The area in front of the stage was soon swarming with children dancing and singing their hearts out, and the rest of the audience were captivated by the band’s superb renditions of these well-known songs.
Opetaia Foa’i, the founder of Te Vaka, fronted the band either as lead guitarist or vocalist, or as part of the percussion group.
Olivia Foa’i, his daughter, and Sulata Foai-Amiatu, another founding member, provided terrific vocals, singing a number of songs with great musicality and rhythm. Olivia, joined by Etueni Pita and Dave Kuresa, also performed several dynamic and powerful dances.
Matatia Foa’i showed enormous musicality in the percussion area, as well as entertaining us with a slinky rendition of Shiny, from Moana, and Douglas Bernard was more than a match for the two female vocalists.
The show was compered by Dave Armstrong, who not only gave the thumbs up to the next DSO concert — twice — but also presented a kind of mini-guide to the various sections of the orchestra. The orchestra, under the baton of Kenneth Young, added warmth and variety to the songs from the now-famous film.
Songs of Moana, performed by Te Vaka
Dunedin Town Hall, Sunday, July 8