Last year, conductor Christine Archer-Lockwood planned a concert where the Renaissance Singers would be singing with a string quartet and with individual members of the quartet. It was postponed by Covid.
The key piece of the planned concert was The Poet: a Song Cycle, in which composer Jenny McLeod has put to music some of Janet Frame's poems. This composition was chosen to represent New Zealand at the 2009 International Rostrum of composers in Paris.
Frame, one of New Zealand's most famous writers, loved writing poetry but didn't believe her poetry particularly worthy, publishing just a small volume.
On her death, her friends thought otherwise and published her considerable portfolio of poems. These included her poetic musings on the nature of a poet included in The Poet: A Song Cycle.
McLeod had just returned to New Zealand from time in Europe and the UK when Palmerston North celebrated its 100th anniversary. She was asked by the Palmerston North City Council to create a production to celebrate the city's centenary.
Under the Sun, performed six times in a week in May 1971, and two years in the making, traced the story of the sun, and involved a rock band, four orchestras, two adult choirs and four children's choirs of 440 children who sang, danced and acted while 70 paintings from 16 schools were displayed on screens. McLeod had firmly made her mark on Palmerston North's cultural scene.
But it transpires that McLeod's connection to Palmerston North is much more than that. Her great-grandmother Matilda Montgomery with her foster mother, Louisa Snelson, were the first Pākehā transported from Foxton to Palmerston North.
Matilda married John Halford Perrin. John and brother Ernest and their father, John Edmund Perrin, built the first buildings in The Square, including Snelson's general store and hotel. They also built the first wooden Anglican church.
McLeod's connections to Palmerston North go back much further than most. And Frame lived in Dahlia St in the 1990s.
The string quartet performing with the Renaissance Singers consists of four young but already accomplished musicians. Three of them, Sylvia Neild, Joanna Dann and Nathan Pinkney, are well known as having grown up in Palmerston North. The fourth member, Hayden Nickel, is a Samoan Wellingtonian committed to involving more Samoans in classical music.
The strings are pulled together on May 22 when The Poet will be performed by the Renaissance Singers and the young string quartet.
The quartet will also perform two movements of the Dvorak classic, American Quartet, before individual instrumentalists together with pianist Guy Donaldson will join the choir singing a range of pieces specially written for choir and a stringed instrument.
Finally, the quartet and choir will join forces to sing Christina Rossetti's heart-felt poem, The Rose.
What: Singing with Strings
When: Saturday, May 22, 2.30pm
Where: Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
Tickets: From choir members and at the door.