We dedicate this performance to the many thousands of people worldwide who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. The music has been chosen for its message of hope, comfort and peace.
The highlight of this concert is Gabriel Fauré’s popular and very human "Requiem" mass. Written in the late 19th century and purely ‘for the pleasure of it’, Fauré described his "Requiem" as a lullaby of death and of a happy deliverance, rather than a painful experience. With distinctive colour and expressive shaping, it is sensitive, passionate and uplifting. Two young and aspiring Dunedin soloists, Scott Bezett and Caroline Burchell, will join City Choir in this performance.
Three contemporary works complete the programme. New Zealander Christopher Marshall’s "Pastorale", a work for men’s voices and soprano solo, is a setting of Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. Marshall has created a distinctive sound-world with strings, organ and shimmering vibraphone rhythms which provide a background to the men’s chorus and a soaring solo voice.
"Song of the Universal", composed by the Norwegian, Ola Gjeilo, is a work for women’s voices, strings and piano. Gjeilo is one of the most frequently performed contemporary choral composers. Now resident in the US, he creates a distinctive sound-world, evolving a style that is often described as cinematic and evocative, with a lush, harmonious sound. A prayer for ‘health, peace [and] salvation universal’ could not be more appropriate in these anxious times.
Completing the programme is "Dona nobis pacem" (‘Grant us peace’) by the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, now one of the most influential and praised European contemporary composers. "Dona nobis pacem" is an atmospheric and a tonally static work with chant-like melodic lines. Although only three words are sung throughout, the enriched texture and increasing harmonic tension impart a pleading, and at times almost anguished intensity to the text before it ends in serenity and hope.
We are delighted that the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra will once again provide their excellent accompaniment to the choir’s voices.