Who:¬†Hamilton Civic Choir
When:¬†Sunday July 10th 2016
Where:¬†St Peter’s Cathedral
Works by:¬†Schubert and Mozart
Soloists:¬†Eliza Boom, soprano; Kayla Collingwood, mezzo;¬†¬†Filipe Manu, tenor;
Jarvis Dams, baritone
Sunday¬†night was unusual, but an object lesson for those who take concert attendance somewhat casually. The concert was scheduled to begin at 5pm. At 4.30, there were two queues at the door, a short one for ticket holders and a much longer one for door sales hopefuls.
By intended start time, people were still buying tickets at the door, and having to be seated across the side aisles of St Peter’s Cathedral because the central block was already full.¬†On the sides,¬†the sight¬†lines are less forgiving but the sound is fine, but some people have strong opinions about where they sit. Had they bought tickets¬†or come earlier, there would not be a problem.
Here¬†was a live concert starting at 5pm, serious classical music, no amplification, full choir of 40¬†voices, four soloists, and 12-piece ensemble orchestra without guitar or drums in sight, By ten past five, as a boy racer happily gunned his car away from the cathedral precincts, Maestro Timothy Carpenter was finally able to raise his baton.
The first notes of Schubert’s much-sung¬†Mass No.2 in G¬†filled the cathedral and the hearts of the audience. The vocal dynamics were perfectly matched to the rewarding but intense acoustic of the cathedral, the tuning perfect, the balance a licence to offer up a mental “wow!”
The choir was a polished complement to the opening soloist, soprano Eliza Boom, whose voice brought a true sense of the mood of the¬†Kyrie.¬†¬†At the same time the choir, particularly the tenor and bass sections, conveyed the sense of the music and the text with waves of sound punctuated with shots dramatic subito piano.
Clearly the choir was in the best form it had been for two years or more, and under the passionate and informed baton of Mr Carpenter,¬†¬†beginning to produce a new timbre. The¬†Gloria¬†began with a snappy forte entry, which surprised a small person so much his hands went to cover his ears, but the audience was all smiles, especially through a pitch perfect passage of fortissimo semitones and the Dams and Bloom duet.
Perhaps there were moments when the Benedictus stretched the choir somewhat, and¬†¬†picky person commented on a couple of less than perfectly synchronous entries, but the rest of us were completely absorbed.
Who could resist the series of Mozart arias which provided a brief interlude between the Schibert and the Mozart¬†Vesperae Solennes de Confessore?¬†Two love songs, one from the dolce mezzo of Kayla Collingwood, and one from the seamlessly powerful voice of Filipe Manu, together with Boom and Dams,¬†underlined the extraordinary vocal quality which exists in such singers New Zealand.
The¬†Solemn Vespers¬†followed the same memorable path, with the¬†Laudate Dominumsung so gently, so movingly, as Boom, in the most beautiful sequence again tempted one into a string of superlatives while the choir gave it the final exquisite polish. Oh how the mighty have been reborn. Their performance of Verdi’s¬†Requiem¬†on October 8 with Bach Musica should be memorable.