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Moving musical work for Christchurch to premiere

Moving musical work for Christchurch to premiere

By Martin Andrew

SUNDAY afternoon (July 22) sees the World Premiere of a major new choral work by New Zealand composer, Andrew Perkins at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell. At 2pm, Bach Musica, under the baton of Rita Paczian, present Vespers for Christchurch, an exciting work in seven choruses for full choir and orchestra.

The work, evoking the sounds of ancient cultures, evokes the fortitude and determination of the people of Christchurch. The work serves as a reflection and a tribute as Christchurch’s people face the process of rebuilding their homes and city.

This fortitude reflects that of many people throughout history as they respond to trial and adversity. Perkins compares it to that of the disciples in bringing Christianity to the world.

He also draws a parallel with the ethos of the Five Sacred Goals of the Sisters who established and continued Baradene College, where Perkins worked as Musical Director from 2005 until he moved to Melbourne in 2008.

Born in Warkworth, Andrew Perkins is completing his PhD in Composition at Melbourne University. He aims to complete this submission towards the end of 2012, and Vespers for Christchurch is one of the “seven or eight” major works in his composition folio.

For many years he also directed the Auckland Catholic Schola, directing plainchant and Renaissance Mass settings and motets within the context of the Mass, at St Johns church, Parnell.

In Vespers for Christchurch, Perkins sets seven texts from the Vespers for Pentecost liturgy. The texts resound with highlights from a Dixit Dominus or a Loquebantur, for instance, but it is their accessible passion and musicality that move listeners.

This new work can be appreciated for its ancient roots, its dramatic quality and energy, or at a spiritual level. The music reflects Perkins’s study of ancient Indian, Hebrew, and Middle Eastern music as well as his interested in texts from the vespers.

Perkins says: “the choral music was created to correspond with my idea of what an ancient Greek chorus and accompanying instrumental groups could have sounded like”.

The soprano performing the work is internationally renowned Kiwi performer, Gina Sanders. The performance also features pianist Grace Francis performing a Mozart Piano concerto (in G Major, K 453) on the same program.

While he was working on the Vespers, the earthquake of February, 2011 struck. Like many New Zealanders abroad, Perkins was dumbstruck by the devastation on a city he knew and loved, and on its iconic cathedral and other important markers of Mainlander culture.

The Christchurch Vespers evokes the strong empathy of a Kiwi living abroad for those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake. Bach Musica and Rita Paczian present this moving tribute on Sunday July 22 at 2pm in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell.


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