Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

City Choir Dunedin and Cantus Columbia at Knox Church, Sat26July

26 July 2014

A near capacity house gave full praise for excellent performances by a showcase of local talent. Three choirs, the City Choir Dunedin conducted by David Burchell, and Cantus Columbia and Columbia Junior Madrigal Choir conducted by Richard Madden, soloists, Cathy Sim (Soprano), Calla Knudsen-Hollebon (Soprano), James Burchell (Alto), Peter Wigglesworth (Tenor), and Clinton Fung (Bass) were most ably accompanied by section leaders from the Southern Sinfonia, pianists, Sandra Crawshaw and John van Buskirk and organist Simon Mace. A well-devised programme of twentieth century works brought welcome contemporary relevance.

David Hamilton’s spirituals are a successful meld of Black American and Church of England sounds. City Choir’s enjoyment of the rhythms in “Whosoever Will” and “Walk You in the Light” produced aural security. However, divided into three, they never securely conveyed the intricate diversities of “Dance-Song to the Creator”.

Cantus Columbia presented “Minoi Minoi”, Schubert’s “The Lord is my Shepherd” and George Harrison’s “Here comes the Sun”. The choir is a splendid collection of pure juvenile voices and a joy to listen to. Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” is an occasionally disjointed work, with quirky rhythms and melodic lines and some interesting word painting from the Organ. The City Choir’s articulation and aesthetic interpretation was very good. Knudsen-Hollebon’s treble solo was stunningly beautiful with good attention to the words. James Burchell’s alto solo reveals a good voice hampered by nerves and some difficulty in the lower register. Wigglesworth’s tenor voice grows in both richness and strength and Fung’s bass recitative was also good.

Rutter’s “Mass for the Children” was the true highlight of the evening. All performers captured its excellently composed heart-warming beauty excellently. Sim and Fung’s voices, the wind ensemble, harp, organ and percussion and the combined choirs melded perfectly and produced pure joy.

Bravo.

Marian Poole