It’s started already. Christchurch is the scene of an avalanche of song and instrumental music of all genre. It began Sunday 19 August with a 3.00pm Choral Fest at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Manchester street. It swells further and further with the local NZ Choral Federation Singfest 18, beginning 10.00am Saturday 25 August, and concludes Sunday 26 August 2018 with an Evensong starting 5.00pm at the Transitional Cathedral (cnr Madras and Hereford Streets).
The Choral Fest opened in the Cathedral’s Choir Loft with Christchurch Church Choirs (Paul Ellis and Harry Meehan sharing conducting and organ playing) with a joyous performance of Stanford’s “Jubilate in Bb” followed by “O Taste and See” & “Let All the World”, both by Ralph Vaughan Williams and honouring his remarkable musical contributions as well as remembering him on the 60th anniversary of his death.
Community Choirs of Christchurch next took the stage under the leadership of Sandra Norquay and Lynn Good accompanying, with “As Time Goes By”, “Shenandoah” and Rutter’s “For the Beauty of the Earth”.
A glimpse into the future of choirs came with stunning performances by Christchurch Boys’ Choir and the Cathedral Choristers under leadership of Dr John Linker and Harry Meehan. They featured Sea chanties and a Psalm setting of “The Lord is My Shepherd” plus a very significant item. This was Martin How’s “Bless, O Lord, Us Thy Servants”: special because the words of this anthem are those of the RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) Choristers’ Prayer, offering dedication to God worldwide in choir vestries as well as at relevant times during church services.
Concert Stage Choirs followed under leadership of Don Whelan, Felicity O’Brien, and Nicholas Sutcliffe, with accompaniament by Simon Mace. They presented Purcell’s “With Drooping Wings”, “Alleluia” by Jacob de Mantua and a heart touching performance of “Lacrymosa” from Mozart’s Requiem.
Then a grand finale with all the massed choirs under direction of Don Whelan and accompanists Simon Mace (piano) and Nicholas Sutcliffe (organ), singing the “Halleluia” chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The large audience stood, as is the custom, respecting spine-tingling glorious singing of the huge choir.
From Saturday 25 August the choral and music avalanche continues.