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City Choir Dunedin: Applaud! Women In Music

City Choir Dunedin is pleased to announce Applaud! Women in Music, a concert presented by City Choir on Saturday 29 May at 7:30 pm in Knox Church, George Street, Dunedin.

We celebrate the contribution of women to choral music, as symbolised by St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. She was a noble lady of Rome around 230 AD who, despite her vow of virginity, was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart. She was later declared the saint of musicians.

The programme includes works by Marianna Martines (Austria), Cécile Chaminade (France), Tamsin Jones (United Kingdom), Rosephanye Powell (America), and New Zealander Felicia Edgecombe. Also included is Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia.

The choir will be joined by soloists Olivia Pike (soprano), Tessa Romano (mezzo-soprano) and Benjamin Madden (tenor), all local Dunedin artists. Sandra Crawshaw, lauded for her excellence on the piano, will provide the accompaniment. Other musicians on flute, oboe, clarinet and organ will add to the riches of this production. David Burchell, who has made a name for himself as a brilliant conductor, will provide musical direction and conduct the performance. Mark Anderson, who usually plays the timpani in the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, will be the assistant conductor.

Tickets range from $10-$40, available from Eventfinda online or phone 0800 289 849, or cash at MusicWorks, Music Planet or at the door on the night.

Highlights on the programme:

Marianna Martines (1744–1812), was a singer, pianist and composer of the classical period. Little known today, Marianna Martines was an acclaimed composer in her lifetime who influenced Mozart. Growing up, she took music lessons from a young, struggling composer who rented the attic of her family’s Vienna home. His name was Joseph Haydn. Already as a child she was good enough to perform before the imperial court. Laudate Pueri Dominum is a psalm by Mattei that Martines set to music. As befits the text, Marianna’s setting of Psalm 112 is a joyful, energetic work.

Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) composed Hymn to St Cecilia, a work that is as easy to love as it is to admire. Throughout the hymn it is as if we are floating in the heavens, swooping down towards earth occasionally but then rising up again on the breeze – Britten’s music really is that wondrous and weightless. Small wonder that many Britten conductors count this hymn among their favourites of the composer’s works. The hymn was given its first (radio) performance in 1942.

Felicia Edgecombe (b. 1945), teacher, song-writer and musician, was born in Napier and educated at Tauranga Girls’ College, then later at Auckland University, studying English and Music for a BA degree. She has taught in secondary schools in Auckland and Wellington, serving as Head of Music at Queen Margaret College for many years. She is currently the musical director of the Capital Choir in Wellington. Extensively involved with choirs and church music, she has written many wide-ranging songs. Shaky Places is a set of 14 songs for mixed-voice choir, set to poems by various New Zealand poets. It is a collection of quintessential New Zealand experiences including the natural world, puzzles of identity and the Christchurch earthquakes. The individual songs range from powerful and profound to good humoured, witty and evocative.

About the featured soloists:

Olivia Pike

Olivia Pike is a soprano and pianist based in Dunedin, after completing her Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice Performance at the University of Otago. She has extensive experience on the stage, performing in both musical theatre and opera. She has sung with the NZ Opera Chorus since 2016, and regularly competes in aria competitions around the country, with many successes – including winning the 2018 Dame Malvina Major Foundation Dunedin Aria Competition. She has performed frequently around Dunedin as an opera singer, including making her principal role debut as Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 2018 for Opera Otago, and is performing for The Little Box of Opera’s production this March. When not singing, Olivia is a sought-after accompanist for both choirs and soloists. She also teaches both piano and singing privately, and has been a musical director for several shows. 2021 sees Olivia returning to study, working towards a Masters of Music in Classical Voice Performance.

Tessa Romano

Tessa Romano is Lecturer in Voice at the University of Otago. A native of Syracuse, New York, mezzo-soprano Tessa holds a DMA in Voice and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado Boulder, an MMus in Voice from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts (AB) in Italian from Princeton University. Tessa has held opera fellowships at Aspen Opera Center and the Colorado University New Opera Workshop (CU NOW). Past awards include First Place in the Florida Grieg Voice Competition, Winner of The Art of Art Song Competition, and Winner of the French American Vocal Association’s Grand Concours Prize. She has been a soloist with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Hartford Symphony and the American Handel Society, and has studied under Jennifer Bird, Freda Herseth, Christopher Arneson, Richard Lalli, Nancy Andresen, and Helen Boatwright.

Benjamin Madden

Benjamin Madden is a proudly born-and-bred Dunedin tenor trained by Pat Scally-Richardson and Judy Bellingham. Since finishing vocal study at the University of Otago, Benjamin has been working as a choral director and private singing teacher in Dunedin since 2014. Ben currently teaches singing and directs choirs for Otago Boys’ High School, Otago Girls’ High School, St Hilda's Collegiate School and teaches instruments (guitar, drums and singing) at Abbotsford Primary School. Benjamin has enjoyed the opportunity to work with the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir as a conducting intern, guest vocal tutor and vocal consultant. Benjamin is a current member of Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and enjoys performing with the Octagon Ensemble when their repertoire allows. Benjamin was delighted to work with City Choir Dunedin in a vocal coach capacity in 2020 and is looking forward to doing so again later in 2021. Outside of singing and teaching music Benjamin is an avid endurance athlete enjoying running long distances.

Sandra Crawshaw

Sandra Crawshaw is a pianist and violinist based in Dunedin. As well as maintaining a busy teaching schedule, she is also in demand as a performer and adjudicator. She has a passion for promoting the music of women composers, having given several different lecture-recitals throughout New Zealand in the past few years. She also completed a Master’s thesis about Cécile Chaminade in 2015. Sandra has enjoyed playing with City Choir Dunedin on several occasions, and is therefore quite excited to take part in this coming concert. Currently, she is part-way through a PhD, compiling a history of entertainment in Dunedin, focusing on His Majesty’s Theatre (aka Sammy’s - now sadly derelict).

About the conductor

David Burchell

David Burchell has been Musical Director of City Choir Dunedin since the beginning of 2000 and is now the longest-serving Musical Director in the choir’s history. He is Organist and Choir Director at St Joseph’s Cathedral, and Senior Organist and Parish Choir Director at All Saints’ Church. He is the Dunedin City Organist, the University of Otago’s Graduation Organist and organ tutor for the Performing Arts Music Programme. He is also a regular conductor of the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, and occasionally works with St Kilda Brass. David is a graduate of Oxford University and there enjoyed a lengthy association with the renowned Choir of New College Oxford, first as Organ Scholar and later as Assistant Organist. This included a term in charge of the choir, television and radio broadcasts, and participation in the recording of many CDs as organ accompanist and soloist. He has also worked as a university lecturer and was director of the Newcastle University Orchestra. From 1999 to early 2011 he was Organist and Choir Director at St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin. As Musical Director of City Choir Dunedin he directs performances of major works for choir with a variety of accompanimental groups.

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