The Best Of Gilbert + Sullivan

When: Friday September 25th 2015 at 7:30 pm

Where: Southwell School Hall, Peachgrove Road, Hamilton

All the best bits – a Gilbert & Sullivan Spectacular

A young lover threatened with a death sentence for flirting, young men disguising themselves as ladies to infiltrate a women’s university, dim-witted politicians getting confused about fairies…

These improbable scenarios, and many more, will be explored at the next concert by the Hamilton Civic Choir which features “all the best bits” from the operas of well-known British pair, Gilbert and Sullivan.   Librettist W.S Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan produced fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896; many of these are still performed all over the world today. In these shows Gilbert and Sullivan managed to comment on the social and political mores of the late 1800s while entertaining the masses with song and dance, humour, catchy melodies and fast, funny text.

For this concert, Musical Director Francis Cowan has hand-picked his favourite excerpts and finales from shows like The Mikado, Princess Ida, Iolanthe, Ruddigore, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers and has also found three rarely heard beautiful art-songs composed by Arthur Sullivan. Usually, Francis is seated at the piano for Civic Choir rehearsals and concerts, but for this concert will give up the accompanist role to his friend and colleague, Claire Caldwell, and instead will direct the choir in songs which showcase the musical pizzazz and ingenuity of Arthur Sullivan as well as the quirky humour of Gilbert. Francis says he chose the pieces for the program mostly because of their musical interest – many feature excerpts from works by famous composers such as Mozart or Beethoven, which would be recognised by the musically literate audience members of the day.

Francis is well known in the Waikato for his expertise in musical theatre and opera production, especially for the wonderful shows (many of which were G & S standards) presented by the young students of Southwell School during his tenure there as Head of Music between 1994 and 2008.   He is a busy accompanist and vocal coach for other groups including Opera Brava and the Hamilton Gardens Opera Company, and for many years spent his summers on a “busman’s holiday” at the NZ Opera School in Wanganui. His day job in Hamilton is as piano accompanist at The University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music.

The Civic Choir, along with local soloists Ian Campbell and Blaire White, will present the G & S music in the popular format of a supper concert in the hall at Southwell School on Friday September 25th.   The ticket cost will include finger food and a complimentary beer, cider or juice – extra drinks can be purchased at a cash bar.  Audience members are invited to dress in British style to add to the fun and are advised to book tickets early, as previous events of this type have quickly sold out.

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