NZSSC Concert Review: January 21, Waiapu Anglican Cathedral, Napier
Tuesday 28 January 2020
Concert Review – New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, Directed by Sue Densem, St John’s Cathedral, Napier, Tuesday, 21 January. Reviewed by Peter Williams It was a great pleasure to have the NZSSC back in Hawke’s Bay, remembering their superb concert here two years ago. A new conductor this time, the exuberant Sue Densem who drew […]
Concert Review – New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, Directed by Sue Densem, St John’s Cathedral, Napier, Tuesday, 21 January. Reviewed by Peter Williams
It was a great pleasure to have the NZSSC back in Hawke’s Bay, remembering their superb concert here two years ago. A new conductor this time, the exuberant Sue Densem who drew wonderful music from the fifty five secondary school students, auditioned members for two years of a choir which in the past has thrilled audiences both in New Zealand and on their overseas tours. They are sure to make the same impact on this year’s tour!
Jabberwocky, by Sam Pottle, from Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass, with its piano and percussion accompaniment, movement and great range of dynamics, made a spectacular opening, a marked contrast to Jack Runestad’s Nyan Nyan with its vivid exploration of sounds of the human voice.
More contrasts were shown in the poignant setting of In Remembrance by former Hawke’s Bay resident David Childs, and the sombre Catacombs by N Z composer William Yaxley where the choir’s vocal sounds accompanied the solo soprano voice in the widest range of dynamics.
The beautiful singing of the Hebrew Love Song by Eric Whitacre was balanced by the gentle piano and violin accompaniment, and the first half of the programme ended with the brilliant singing of The Heavens are Telling by Haydn, with its alternating choral singing and the separate soprano, tenor and bass trio.
The astounding performance of the two waiata – Kahu Atangatanga and Tuituia Tatou E – after the interval, with such skilled and free movement, held the audience absolutely spellbound, with even more to come in the Samoan Tate Le Fia Manatua, with its powerful singing, movement and rhythm accompaniment, at the end.
Prior to this, the choir divided to sing Irish folk songs – female voices Siull a Ruin for choir and solo voice, and the male voices singing Dulaman with the amazing traditional Irish language sounds.
Much of the programme was sung from memory and unaccompanied, but there were skilled instrumentalists among the singers and assistant conductor and piano accompanist, Brent Stewart, showed his skill, especially in Pure Imagination from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
There was an encore – the spectacular modern anthem Praise His Holy Name – where the choir sang and danced down the aisles in brilliant high spirits to end the concert.
The astonishing variety of the singing, the display of absolute confidence, freedom and easy interaction of all choir members, made this a concert which will live long in the memory – a wonderful music experience for both choir and audience, exhibiting the splendid culture in the choir, built up under the leadership of Music Director Sue Densem and her assistants, Brent Stewart and Rachel Alexander.
Hawkes Bay Today music columnist