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Wellington singers to represent NZ in Europe

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Wellington singers to represent New Zealand in Europe

The Tudor Consort competes in Spain and sings at St Peters in Rome

Wellington's specialist early music choir, The Tudor Consort, has been invited back to the Tolosa International Choral Competition in Spain this October after winning two awards at the prestigious event in 2003.

Fourteen singers will travel to Spain to represent New Zealand at the Tolosa competition, one of six European competitions that together make up the European Grand Prix circuit of choral singing.

After competing against other vocal groups from Europe, America and Asia, The Tudor Consort travels to Salzburg to sing at the Cathedral where Mozart worked, and then onto Rome to sing Mass at St Peters Basilica in the Vatican. St Peters Basilica is the home of the Catholic Church and is where Pope Benedict personally celebrates Mass.

It's a fantastic artistic programme for the choir, and a wonderful opportunity for the singers to learn from watching the performances of some of the best choirs in Europe, says the group's director, Alastair Carey.

"Each year, the finest choral groups in Europe, Asia and the Americas come together in the European grand prix circuit to learn from listening others and to demonstrate their own vocal art. For us, it's a rare opportunity to benchmark ourselves against other groups and to find out what's happening in choral music internationally," says Carey.

The choir is made up of the finest singers in the region, including emerging young solo performers such as Craig Beardsworth, countertenor Christopher Warwick and Lexus Song Quest 2005 winner Madeleine Pierard. The Lexus Song Quest, previously the Mobil Song Quest, is New Zealand's most prestigious singing award and has launched many of our most famous opera stars onto the international stage, including Kiri Te Kanawa and Johnathan Lemalu.

Wellington audiences have an opportunity to hear both the choir and its soloists in a series of public fundraising recitals.

The first, given by the soloists of the choir, is on Sunday 18 September at 3pm at St Andrews on the Terrace. Beardsworth and Pierard sing their favourite operatic arias and are joined by Warwick, Carey and choir member Megan Hurnard in a programme of solo works that includes French art song, German leid and Italian and English early music.

In October, the choir presents two pre-tour performances that showcase the repertoire being taken overseas. Key among the pieces being sung are four New Zealand works that stand tall in this programme. One is a new piece by Victoria University composer James Gardner that was written especially for this tour.

"Travelling overseas, to some of the most beautiful venues in Europe, gives us an opportunity to learn from others but also to present New Zealand music to audiences that will be hearing it for the first time. These singers will be artistic ambassadors for New Zealand while in Europe," says Carey.

ENDS

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