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The joy of singing

kapiti chorale soloists
The soloists, from left: Samuel McKeever, Olivia Sheat, LJ Crichton and Music Director Eric Sidoti.

by Norma McCallum
Here they came, marching down the aisle like the vanguard of some triumphant army – and, yes, they were in a way. The Kapiti Chorale, throughout the year since their last concert, has been part of the magnificent cohorts of singers who have kept choral music going through the chilly winter rehearsal nights, illnesses, lockdown anxieties and a year that no one could have imagined.

Flooding added to the difficulties as members struggled to get to St. Paul’s, Kapiti – from all points south and over the rain soaked Akatarawas.

In New Zealand we are familiar with good leadership – but let us not forget the leadership of those small organisations whose committees have kept the fabric of our society together. So all hail to the Kapiti Chorale committee and President Carol and conductor Eric Sidoti whose good humour and encouragement have kept the singers focussed on the goal – a concert of which to be proud and love of the music.

The excited ‘full house’ settled comfortably to the soothing familiarity of the folk songs of John Rutter’s ‘Sprig of Thyme’; taking us down well remembered paths from the striding rhythm of The Keel Row to the melancholy ‘Willow Tree’, with the men joyously rollicking through The Millar of Dee.

The comical ‘Der Hochzeitbraten’ of Schubert brought smiles as soloists Olivia Sheat and LJ Crichton, the betrothed couple illegally hunting game for their wedding, dealt with gamekeeper Samuel McKeever who had his eye on the pretty bride to be. ‘He’ll be knocking on their door in a day or two’, said one audience member. The blending of voices was superb. These are young singers to watch out for; they have all but scooped the pool with honours and awards and the Chorale is to be congratulated for encouraging their professional careers.

Shelter me, the way ahead is dark by illustrious American composer Fr. Michael Joncas, a prayer song in the time of COVID 19, was added to the choir’s repertoire. The choir and conductor Anne Marie Stapp’s emotional involvement in the message and the music brought tears to audience eyes as they ‘remembered the corporate and individual heroism in the face of suffering’ that Fr. Michael wrote about in that terrible night of reflection in his American home.

Gounod’s Messe Solenelle de Sainte-Cecile showed the choir in its full glory. No one says it better than French composer Camille Saint-Saens:’This simplicity, this grandeur, this serene light which rose before the musical world like a breaking dawn….one was dazzled, then charmed, then conquered.’ The glorious phrasing and tones would have done honour to any 15th century cathedral: the lovely melodies and harmonies, the drama. From the gentle Kyrie to the moving build up to the Credo and the Sanctus, the sheer joy of the Resurrexit, the choir were inspired by conductor Eric’s subtle direction with the three soloists adding texture and beauty. All amply supported by internationally famed organist Martin Setchell and pianist Phillip O’Malley.

The collegiality of the choir shines through – its excellent training, honour and courtesy to its conductor and love of its music. It is all of this which brings the audience back time and time again to support the Chorale, a treasure for the Kapiti Coast. May 2021 be a calmer year and bring us more of the beautiful music for which you are known.

2021 will see both new and familiar music. Anyone interested in joining the choir should contact it through its website or Facebook or ring 06 3676488.

More great singing: new Footlights Society show

1 comment:

  1. Carol Dyer, 5. December 2020, 18:01

    Fantastic review for our choir concert and thank you to Scoop for publishing it and the photo