Renaissance Singers with Schola Sacra Choir. Conductors: Guy Donaldson and Roy Tankersley. St Peters Church – Saturday, May 7.
The good-sized audience at St Peter’s Church were treated to an enjoyable programme which highlighted the individuality of each choir and the strong and powerful sound of the combined forces.
The first half opened with a bracket from Schola Sacra of Wanganui. This choir had a good solid sound at high dynamic levels. The sound tended to become a little muddy during softer passages, where the imbalance of parts (only eight men in total) became more obvious.
The choir seemed to particularly enjoy their first piece. O Thou the Central Orb by Charles Wood, and Where Go the Mists of Morning. The latter piece was written by Palmerston North composer Graham Parsons as a dedication to the 29 victims of the Pike River mining disaster.
The choir used good diction and the changing keys of the piece to create a sombre and reflective mood.
Renaissance Singers from Palmerston North then took the stage. Much of their bracket was focused on Shakespeare, this year being the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
The choir had a more unified sound with a better balance between parts.
They covered an interesting range of repertoire, from the warm sound and dynamic contrast of Blow Thou Winter Wind to the cheekiness of Stephano’s Song and the pleasing lightness of When Daisies Pied.
The sole non-Shakespeare piece, Knut Nystedt’s Immortal Bach, was a unique and powerful exploration of the possibilities of a repeated motif.
The choirs combined during the second half. The half began with two short pieces, the pleading Kyrie and upbeat Hodie, with the remainder of the half dedicated to Haydn’s Missa Brevis (Little Organ Mass).
As well as Jonathan Berkahn’s organ, the choirs were accompanied by a small chamber ensemble led by Allan Rae. The choirs ably covered the differing colours in the component parts of the mass.
Soloist Jennifer Little sang well in the Benedictus though her projection was lacking at some points.
A highlight was the closing Agnus Dei with its contrasting legato and staccato passages.