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  • Writer's pictureNapier Civic Choir

Young singers take the lead

St John’s Cathedral, Napier,

7.30 pm, Friday 26 October

The four soloists – soprano Katherine Winitana, mezzo-soprano Sally Heywood, tenor K J Crichton and baritone Sam McKeever - in the next concert by the Napier Civic Choir, directed by José Aparicio, are all young singers, with three of them ex Napier Civic Choir and PPV members, in their first year of university degree study. Listen for fresh, vibrant singers spear-heading the performance of Mass in a Time of War by Haydn, the major item on the programme of concerts in St John’s Cathedral, Napier, at 7.30 pm on Friday 26 October, with a repeat performance at 2.30pm on Sunday, 28 October.

Haydn was a skilled composer of choral music, as shown in works such as Creation and in the masses he composed for the name-day celebration of Princess Maria, wife of Haydn’s employer, Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy.

The title Mass in a Time of War reflects its composition at the time when Napoleon was rampant throughout Europe. Consequently, there are dramatic moments of unsettled and tense character, contrasted with sections of lyricism and hope, and there is dramatic use of timpani in the orchestral accompaniment that gives rise to the mass’s alternative name, Paukenmesse (pauken being German for timpani). The six movements follow the form of the traditional Roman mass Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei - suited to liturgical, or concert use, as on this occasion.

Soprano Katherine Winitana uncovered her love for singing opera early this year and considers it a great privilege to be invited to extend herself further with this opportunity to sing the soprano solos. Both tenor L J Crichton and baritone Samuel McKeever came through the Project Prima Volta programme which helps local teenagers to explore their unique potential within the context of sung performance, and are now studying towards a BMus degree at the University of Wellington. Mezzo-soprano Sally Haywood, recently completed her BMus degree at the New Zealand School of Music.

Two other choral works are on the programme. The Beatitudes, by contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, is a short work for choir and organ, using the text of the verses from St Matthew’s gospel. First performed in 1990, the meditative simplicity of the music has immediate appeal which is reflected in the fact that, for the seventh year, Arvo Pärt, this year, holds the place of the most-performed contemporary composer.

Lux Aeterna by contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen, is modelled on the requiem mass with its five linked sections inspired by the concept of light in its many forms. Lauridsen writes, “I simply wanted to write a beautiful, quiet meditation on the theme of illumination, so that it would have a transformative experience and connect people with something beyond”.

Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E

Saturday, 27 October, 7.30pm

St John's Cathedral

Between the two choral performances hear the Hawke’s Bay Orchestra lead by Stephanie Buzzard and conducted by José Aparicio. They will present a concert featuring violinist Helene Pohl, Leader of the N Z String Quartet, as soloist in the Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn. This concerto is a beautifully crafted mix of classicism and romanticism that has ensured its retention as an audience favourite.

Born in Ithaca, New York, to German parents, Pohl spent her childhood on both sides of the Atlantic. She joined the New Zealand String Quartet as first violinist in February 1994, in 2001 she became joint Artistic Director of the Adam Chamber Music Festival, and now continues to teach violin and chamber music at the New Zealand School of Music.

The programme will begin with the famous Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner and will conclude with a work, brimming with humour, energy and innovation, Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Beethoven, completing the performance by the HBO of the cycle of all nine Beethoven Symphonies.

Josef Haydn

Tickets from Napier Municipal Theatre Box Office, Beattie and Forbes, Ahuriri, Wardini Books, Havelock North, and Door Sales. Adult $39, or both concerts for $72. Gold Card $37 or both concerts for $68. Students $10 each concert. 12 and under - Free.

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