As part of the Christchurch Choral Festival, Canterbury’s RSCMNZ Branch formed a 90-strong combined choir (comprised of selected choristers representing churches in the region).
They opened the Fest held in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral* (home of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Choir) in Manchester Street Christchurch on Saturday 29 August 2015.
They are shown standing in the Cathedral’s Gallery as they perform one of the three items presented, Faure’s “Libera Me” (Deliver Me). CBS Cantor, Wally Enright (centre) sings the solo, with RSCMNZ President Paul Ellis (D of M St Michael and ALL Angels) at the organ and John Linker (Christchurch Cathedral* D of M) conducts.
(*These buildings stand-in for the original churches (nearby) severely damaged by earthquakes from 2010 and whose future is still evolving.)
In addition to the RSCM Choir, about 250 other choristers from various choirs, led by the doyens of Christchurch’s conductors, including Sandra Norquay, Ravil Atlas, David O’Beirne directing leading Community Choirs, Youth Choirs, School Choirs, Scholar Cantorum, and Concert Stage Choirs contributed with an amazing range of items in a multitude of styles to bring to the church-full audience as well as performers an exhilarating and memorable experience. An item of special interest was “Gloria” by Murray Lennox of Christchurch. Composer Murray sang in the choir on the night. Everyone was saying, ‘We must do this again next year’.
Don Whelan, the key co-ordinator of the project, in thanking participants, accompanists (John Linker, Paul Ellis, Chris Graham, Lixin Zhang) and conductors said, “The event shows that music and particularly the choral world is alive and well in Christchurch and is continuing to grow.”
An example of this was Burnside High School Chorale, led by Sue Densem, who stunned the Saturday’s audience with their wonderful performance and who gained in a recent choral competition the Platinum Award.
As a finale all the 350 choristers formed a massed choir under the direction of Don Whelan (with John Linker at the organ as well as Chris Graham playing the piano accompaniment) to perform as a fitting climax to the evening, Haydn’s “The Heavens are Telling”.