Review: Choir sure to stun on tour

By William Dart

The NZ Youth Choir in preparation for international appearances and competitions across Europe. Photo / Brooke Baker
The NZ Youth Choir in preparation for international appearances and competitions across Europe. Photo / Brooke Baker

New Zealand Youth Choir can be relied upon for a ripping good show and, on the eve of its European tour, 49 choristers, under the able David Squire, did just that.

Singing almost entirely without scores, effortlessly transitioning from spirited waiata to complex Latin and German polyphony, this was music-making at a truly ambassadorial level.

A capacity audience enjoyed a remarkably inclusive programme, framed by a processional blend of Gregorian chant with karanga and a schmoozy Hoagy Carmichael encore.

Old favourites included R. Murray Schafer's Epitaph for Moonlight, its freeform textures skilfully spun out by singers in a circle around the audience.

Another was Sarah McCallum's The Moon's Glow Once Lit, a love song in which a resonant male contingent represented the sturdy pohutukawa to the women's shifting sea.

Doubtlessly the spacious sonorities of David Hamilton's very conservative Ave verum corpus will resound magnificently in Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral next month.

Minor disappointments included three rather ersatz Shakespearian settings by the American Matthew Harris which, despite lashings of choral enthusiasm, failed to fire for me.

Much more substantial musical achievement came in hardcore classical repertoire, including an admirable venture on the slippery chromatic slopes of a Peter Cornelius motet.

The choir tackled it all with remarkable sangfroid and precision, graced by a welcome, melodious tenor solo from Manase Latu.

Where: Dorothy Winstone Centre
When: Sunday

- NZ Herald

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