Tribute performance something to be proud of

Shayne Carter rehearsing (in Wellington) ahead of his Bright Spark concert with the NZSO in Dunedin.
Shayne Carter rehearsing (in Wellington) ahead of his Bright Spark concert with the NZSO in Dunedin.

Bright Spark, NZSO & Shayne Carter, Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday, October 15.

A rare tribute of a dedicated orchestral performance to Shayne Carter by the NZSO to be proud of. Under the inspiring baton of Alexander Shelley the NZSO and guests produced a wonderful amalgamation of hitherto diverse forces and creativity to challenge a diverse audience’s listening flexibility. All this stemmed from the opening number and from Carter’s guiding mantra "music is the higher power — sweet". Carter’s personal listening lists reveal a challenging sound world. He blends these influences of rhythmic impulse and gut reaction into his street-wise genre and creativity.

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He forces us to revisit known composers’ hagiography. The fragility of the Mozart excerpt fails to hold audience attention, who in one or two cases resort to giggling into their beers. Schubert, sung excellently by baritone Robert Tucker, is the ultimate songwriter who burnt out too soon. Gerard Grisey’s guttural bass line is countered by fluttering string harmonics. We revel in the tainted but still romantic swollen excesses of Prokofiev, Sibelius and Mahler. The demonic power and subtleties of Messiaen’s two works for Norma the organ, played excellently by Joseph Nolan, is a revelation for those new to her in full flight. Giacinto Scelsi’s 1951 work on one note led us into Carter’s sound world.

Carter’s works were cleverly and sympathetically arranged for orchestra by someone who’s name could not be found in the programme notes.

The orchestration for ‘Randolph’s Going Home’ smothered Carter’s fragile voice and nervous energy, something not unknown within his genre. However the impact remained real enough. ‘Dimmer’s ultimately gleeful ‘drop you off’ line maintained all the emphatic credence of its earlier rendition. ‘Waiting Game’ retained its melodic lyricism with brilliant crescendo to become all the more compelling.

A welcome and successful replication of the ‘Tally Ho series Graeme Downes’ The Verlaines’ works enjoyed.