Arts re­flec­tions

Waikato Times - - Comment & Opinion - SAM ED­WARDS

Men­tioned in Des­patches:

When I first ar­rived in Hamilton, arts events could be cov­ered, and largely were, by a sin­gle re­viewer. Ge­off Fair­burn was a leg­end in his own right, and each event he cov­ered was an event to be cher­ished for its scarcity as much as its qual­ity. This year, 2018, is rather dif­fer­ent. It is sim­ply im­pos­si­ble for a sin­gle re­viewer to cover all that is hap­pen­ing. We have a won­der­ful col­lec­tion of lunchtime con­certs. In April, on the 11th, at the Gal­lagher, the 12th at the Art Mu­seum, and the 13th in the Cre­ative Waikato per­for­mance space, there are lunchtime con­certs, and all three would have been un­miss­able in the days of Ge­off Fair­burn’s sup­port­ively crit­i­cal pen. And that’s only mu­sic. But don’t let the plethora of first class art lull you into think­ing all is well. Word of mouth is be­com­ing crit­i­cal in pub­li­cis­ing events. At­tend­ing is be­com­ing cru­cial.

The arts are still un­der at­tack by the un­civilised thug­gery of the dol­lar, and un­der­mined by a Mul­doo­nian pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the covert sup­pres­sion of in­for­ma­tion. Who would have ex­pected the lat­est at­tack on Mu­sic at Auck­land Univer­sity… Did you even know?

No won­der the St Paul’s Col­le­giate spies were out, getting a real feel for top mu­si­cal the­atre from their own peers prior to their ver­sion of Legally Blonde later in the year. I was still savour­ing a won­der­ful mo­ment in the over­ture where the strings of­fered a se­quence con­tain­ing one of those res­o­nant, plan­gent, lower reg­is­ter pas­sages which lie at the heart of the most mem­o­rable mu­sic when the first voice of the evening sim­ply floated in, qui­etly, beau­ti­fully, uniquely. It was a stun­ning open­ing, and the show had only been go­ing a cou­ple of min­utes. My first re­ac­tion was a ‘‘Where did they find her!’’ Surely this was too con­fi­dent, too full, to be some­one still at school. I was wrong. It was Celia Grif­fiths, singing the part of Ariel. Grif­fiths has been on the mu­sic scene for a while, but tonight turns up as a se­nior stu­dent with a voice which has de­vel­oped such a pu­rity of tone, such ac­cu­racy, and such power that it lifted the whole per­for­mance. And that is not to play down the rest of the cast. This ver­sion of one of the great fa­bles of the dan­gers of mis­ce­genated love was a mile­stone. The dark brood­ing at­mo­spher­ics of Scan­di­na­vian were de­liv­ered with grip­ping dy­nam­ics and night­mar­ish im­agery by Shona Shin as the evil Ur­sula, the King’s sis­ter, and aunt of our hero­ine Ariel. The Dis­ney film in­ter­pre­ta­tion is sani­tised be­yond be­lief, but the Hill­crest High School vari­a­tion is not. It ed­its cru­elly mem­o­rable mo­ments of the orig­i­nal, like the newly limbed Ariel feel­ing as if she is danc­ing bare­foot on bro­ken glass, but Aunty Ur­sula con­veys the dark side with equal power – and no blood. Cos­tume de­sign­ers Joy Wright and Ash­leigh Wells need their names in lights. Their cos­tumes pro­vided char­ac­ters with qual­i­ties which had depth and orig­i­nal­ity, from Yu­lia Kor­duke’s Scut­tle, the most hi­lar­i­ous gull you will ever meet, to the won­der­ful en­ergy and stage sense of Hakaia Daly’s Se­bas­tian the crab. ‘‘Well done, Mr Hall. Great pace. Ter­rific mu­sic. Qual­ity per­for­mances from a stage-ed­u­cated cast.’’

What: From Hamilton To New York Who: Hamilton Civic Choir When: March 24

Where: Te Awa­mutu The­atre

Works by: Dou­glas Mews, James Erb, Morten Lau­rid­sen and oth­ers.

Mu­si­cal Di­rec­tor: Ti­mothy Car­pen­ter

In a fort­night’s time, Hamilton Civic Choir flies to to New York to sing, by in­vi­ta­tion, in Carnegie Hall. An­drew Carnegie was an in­ter­na­tional phi­lan­thropist and sup­porter of the arts. That doesn’t mean the choir goes ex­penses paid. They do not – and they will grate­fully ac­cept do­na­tions in sup­port of the choir, but Carnegie’s ar­chi­tec­tural legacy is one of those won­der­ful gifts which helps dis­play, and share, mu­si­cal bril­liance to the world. This choir is bril­liant, and on Satur­day per­formed works from their New York pro­gramme.

It was an eclec­tic, essen­tially mod­ern list, and be­gan with Purcell’s sup­pli­ca­tory an­them, Hear My Prayer. It was an in­ter­est­ing choice of ti­tle, and per­haps had some­thing to do with the im­prove­ments which fol­lowed.

This con­cert came at a time when the choir is in full prepa­ra­tion.

Not all works are yet at an equal level, but one has to smile at other ti­tles which which in­cluded the beau­ti­ful Dou­glas Mews work, A Sound Came From Heaven – and there were mo­ments when that seemed true – and then dou­bled down to the Shake­speare poem set by Jaakko Man­ty­jarvi, Dou­ble Dou­ble Toil and Trou­ble, as an iconic cry for per­fec­tion – or fund­ing – or the per­fect en­try.

It is no­table that the en­tire con­cert of twelve works and an encore stylishly ar­ranged by choir tenor John Her­itage, ranged across very dif­fer­ent gen­res, en­gaged with mu­sic of more than usual com­plex­ity, and was sung en­tirely a capella.

The en­gage­ment at the Carnegie has such prom­ise, and, (in a quiet aside to our city fi­nanciers,) will bring a new and valu­able per­spec­tive to the way Hamilton is per­ceived from out­side. Ad bene, cho­ris­tarum. Ut maneat vo­bis­cum in mu­sica – which my muse tells me means ‘Go well, cho­ris­ters. May the mu­sic be with you.’

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Celia Grif­fiths and Jet Lim star in The Lit­tle Mer­maid.

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