Palmerston North, New Zealand
February 3, 2002
Last Thursday saw me flying north for this big event. I had booked in the YHA at the top of Queen St (just as well as it turned out, as the hostel was fully booked.) The hostel turned out to be a very handy location.
It was about a 20 minute walk along busy Symonds St to the large church where we had a practice on the Thursday evening. People were very friendly, and I learned a lot from our conductor, John Rosser, even in one evening. The highlight though had to be hearing Malvia Major, one of New Zealand's most famous sopranos, singing in that church.... her pure voice without a microphone.... so very beautiful.......
Friday morning I headed off to visit the Museum and saw preparations in progress in the Domain.
Next evening we had a choir practice in the Domain from 5.45pm while the technical people adjusted mic levels and lights, etc. Then after a short tea-break, there was a run-through of most of the performance for the next night. We had quite a sizeable, appreciative audience even for this. One of the photos shows some of the altos. The men in orange are members of a Taiwanese choir that joined us.
Well the concert itself on Saturday night was a wonderful event. So many many people there! (Organisers say 200 000.)
The first half was a bit more classical. Malvina Major sang, and there were some wonderful young performers. There were identical twin violinists who have emigrated here from Russia, 17 year olds, so talented they had everyone spellbound. For the Blue Danube Waltz, John Hawkesby, a New Zealand media personality and a very capable MC, waltzed with his daughter Kate. A huge proportion of the crowd got up and waltzed as well. The choir's highlight for me was when we sang Handel's "Zadok the Priest" and sang lustily for god to save the king...... what a great piece for a massed choir!
Second half was totally alive and buzzy. It started with Jackie Clarke and three others doing an "Abba" take-off. Then there was some Rocky Horror stuff. But my goodness..... I will never ever forget singing in the 1812 Overture: what an experience.... with the cannons going off on my left-hand side, and the fireworks behind us. What a blast!!!!!!!
It was a great evening. If you are ever going to be in Auckland late January, try to find out when this free concert is on, and go along for a wonderful evening's entertainment.
From journal The north of the north