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Unique Chinese Choral Event This Weekend



Aucklanders will have a rare opportunity to experience contemporary Chinese Christian music this weekend at a combined service featuring 250 singers from 10 church choirs.

Up to 600 people are expected to pack St David's Presbyterian Church in Khyber Pass on Saturday September 2nd for the 7.30pm service.

There are around 30 Chinese Christian churches around Auckland, and music is a very important medium for their faith, says Chinese Church Music Association chairman, Albert Wu. "It will enrich New Zealand's contemporary culture if it is heard more widely," he says.

Mr Wu says the growing stature of Chinese Christian music in New Zealand flows from a totally different tradition and experience than the 19th Century European hymns and English choruses which dominate mainstream church music.

The choirs will be conducted by tenor Mr Peter Chung, musical director for the Chinese Methodist Church, and a graduate of the School of Music at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Chung says the pieces to be performed on Saturday feature a blending of Western and Eastern musical forms, including some very skilled harmonies. "While there is a strong Chinese flavour to the music, it is also very accessible to people who are most familiar with European music," he says.

The works will be sung in Mandarin and tell stories of the Christian experience in mainland China. Composers to feature will include Mr Chung's teacher, Canon Mui, who is based at the Singapore Bible College, and Professor Mei Guang-wen of Singapore.

"Christianity is growing very quickly in China," Mr Chung says. "While the churches are generally left alone, many Christians in mainland China must practise their faith in secret. The freedom we have to worship in New Zealand is very precious."

Albert Wu says the service this Saturday is an annual event organised by the New Zealand Chinese Church Music Association.

"The association does not simply encourage performance of good quality music," he says. "We seek to develop higher standards in areas such as vocal training and training for accompanists, conductors, composers and the organisation and leading of choirs."

Saturday's programme includes performances by a 50-strong Oratorio Choir, and combined pieces involving all of the choirs.


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