The annual New Zealand Opera School service "In Praise of Music", held yesterday, was simply that.

Wondrous voices orchestrating a sunlit morning in the Wanganui Collegiate School Chapel made for a perfect start to the day.

The theme of George Frederick Handel's oratorio Israel In Egypt was stirring and inspired, and the congregation of nearly 400 were thrilled.

When the choir of 21 students in the softly lit stalls burst into Ye Gates Lift Up Your Heads on High (Psalm 24) you could the feel pleasure ripple through the congregation. I'm sure many sighed as they dipped their heads and rejoiced at this beautiful music.


Playing the magnificent pipe organ was virtuoso Alan Gray of Nelson. What an inspired musician this man is.

And how exquisite was The Lord is My Strength, a duet sung by sopranos Natasha Wilson and Alicia Cadwgan.

These young women were bewitching, their voices achingly beautiful.

This was immediately followed by the choir, their voices rich and full, singing He Is My God and I Will Exalt Him, so passionate and so memorable.

The flute and piano solo Air Sicilien by Gluck, played by the majestic duo David Kelly on piano and Loca Mangi (flute), drifted like a magical dream of love soothing us all.

Soprano Chelsea Dolman was enchanting as she sang Thou Dost Blow With The Wind. Her demeanour was soft and beguiling.

This special choir of young opera voices lifted to the rafters was as glowing as the diffused light streaming through the stained glass windows.

Whanganui, we are truly blessed with these young singers who are all working with passion and dedication at this year's 24th New Zealand Opera School.

And last night they were treated to a special barbecue overlooking the sea - which, I hear, is the perfect way for them to unwind.

Bravo, young singers.