Ode to Joy – Gala 50th Anniversary Concert

Saturday 9 April 2016 7:30 pm
Dunedin Town Hall

Tecwyn Evans Conductor

Madeleine Pierard Soprano
Claire Barton Mezzo-soprano
Jonathan Lemalu Bass
City Choir Dunedin

Programme:
Tecwyn Evans: Fires of Light
A selection of operatic arias and duets
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, The Choral

Review

For a city of this size, Dunedin’s symphony orchestra is a real triumph. Since its formation 50 years ago, the orchestra has gone from strength to strength, and on Saturday evening a packed town hall (including the “Gods”) was treated to a momentous Gala 50th Anniversary Concert.

The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra has always nurtured and provided performance opportunity for local emerging artists, many of whom are now international music professionals.

Two who received a great welcome home were Tecwyn Evans (now based in Sweden), the conductor for Saturday evening, and bass soloist Jonathan Lemalu.

I also spotted Philippa McNulty, home from the UK, in the flutes.

The programme opened with Evans’ composition Fires of Light, an orchestral fanfare traversing various moods and tempi.

Operatic arias from the four guest soloists included two popular duets – such a treat to hear these with an orchestra.

Lemalu and tenor Jonathan Abernethy sang the all-time favourite Pearl Fishers’ duet In the Depths of the Temple, and a well-balanced performance of the Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffman was performed by soprano Madeleine Pierard and mezzo-soprano Claire Barton.

City Choir Dunedin has been a regular companion for the orchestra through the 50 years.

Its contribution was Bright Fine Gold, a lively number from Ritchie’s From the Southern Marches, and the choir joined the soloists with energy and fervour for the main work of the evening, Beethoven’s

Symphony No. 9, op.125 (The Choral).

The DSO managed this hugely demanding work reasonably well, with some impressive serene lyricism in the Adagio, and a contrasting bright, well-paced forward moving Scherzo.

The evening will be remembered for the exhilaration of the final movement, which features a choral setting of Schiller’s The Ode to Joy.

Evans produced a massive dramatic musical declaration of joy and love from orchestra, choir and soloists.

Violinist Patricia Leen was presented with a 50 years’ service award.

Mention was made of the orchestra’s leader and piano soloist at the first concert, Joan and Margaret Gardiner (in the audience).

Reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman for the Otago Daily Times, Monday, 11 April 2016.