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In tune with change


It has been a remarkable year for many reasons. And not least for a dozen girls at The Cathedral Grammar School who make up the Girl Choristers, the first group of its kind in the school’s 139-year history. Metropol finds out more about the trailblazing initiative.

 

 

Equality sounded very harmonious recently, when 12 eight-to-13-year-old girls sang their way into the nearly 140-year-old record books.

Founded in 1881, The Cathedral Grammar School was established to educate boy choristers and prepare them for further education. In 1995, this mandate was extended and a girls’ preparatory school was opened, too.

But the Cathedral Choristers remained a boys-only group.

That was until this year, when the Girl Choristers of the Christchurch Cathedral Choir was formed.

A series of Covid-19-related postponements may have delayed their launch, but on October 18 the girls made an inaugural public performance of the aptly named ‘A New Psalme’, a piece of work especially composed for them by international choral conductor and composer Sarah MacDonald.

Now, the girls will share the treble parts of choral performances with the boys, on their own assigned occasions, and will occasionally sing together at major events, too.

This opportunity was what attracted girl chorister Evelyn Lowe, pictured right, with her parents Sarah and Adrian.

“I wanted to sing with my dad,” she says.

Director of the Girl Choristers, Alex Goodwin, told those in attendance at the launch how the girls represented progression in the church, school and wider society.

“It is an absolute pleasure to be able to get to this point finally, after some cancellations this year, the 12 girls behind me represent an enormous step for the life of the Cathedral, city and country.

“They are supremely talented, have been working extremely hard for a long time, and I am really, really very proud to have finally got to this moment.”

Director of Music at the school, and Evelyn’s mum, Sarah Lowe, pitched the notion of a girls’ group after seeing similar initiatives while teaching music overseas.

“My love of music is around developing a spark in students, so that their education journey is fulfilling and meaningful,” she says.

The musical endeavour has also attracted attention from vocal heavyweight, Malvina Major, who is a donor. As well as King Singer, Chris Brueton, who is also a donor.

Dean of Christchurch, The Very Revd Lawrence Kimberley, says the Girl Choristers embody the very reason the girls’ school was opened.

“There are a number of reasons why the girls’ school opened, but one of them was to make it possible for Girl Choristers to emerge.”

At the launch, he said: “You have emerged, and we celebrate this wonderful new development. I want to acknowledge all of you young women, the hard work that you have been doing with Mr Goodwin this year, the choral training you have received, and the growth we have been able to see this year in your musical proficiency.”

The Girl Choristers have not only caught the attention of their local school and church communities, but been the subject of their own feature film by South Island current affairs film collective, Frank Film.

The historical significance of the occasion has also been celebrated by The Press and Anglican E-Life Magazine.

Principal Scott Thelning says in the Frank Film production how he hopes the doors opened by the girls will expand to other community groups, too.

He’d like to “work with local rūnanga in order to make a process work for them, not just that they come and sing with our girls but that we make this environment one that’s going to appeal and work for our full New Zealand culture.”

As well as being a specialist choir school, The Cathedral Grammar School is known for its music and arts curriculum, with more than 300 individual instrumental music and speech and drama lessons taking place on top of usual classes every week.

The school has an orchestra, stage band, rock band and string and woodwind ensembles, and a biennial Operetta which alternates with a concert.


 

Showbiz Christchurch

Back to back Broadway hits: you’ll get a kick out of Showbiz Christchurch’s mid-winter concert Broadway Hitmen

Back to back hits from two of the biggest names on Broadway, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be performed at the Isaac Theatre Royal, with four performances from 13-15 July.

Showbiz Christchurch
Charlotte Taylor will feature as a soloist in Broadway Hitmen. Photo Wendy Riley

American born Porter wrote more than 800 songs across a five-decade career, conquering both Broadway and Hollywood. His soaring melodies, offset with urbane and witty lyrics, gave rise to his signature musical genre known as ‘the Cole Porter song’. Iconic musicals like Anything Goes, Can Can and Kiss Me Kate remain stage and screen classics, finding new audiences with every decade; his greatest songs covered by modern stars from Michael Bublé to Lady Gaga.
British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the best-known name in modern musical theatre. The first composer to have four musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway since 1953, he has written some of the world’s most loved and successful musicals including Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar and CATS.
Broadway Hitmen features favourites from these two musical theatre hit makers performed by an onstage orchestra under the baton of Ravil Atlas, along with soloists and a large chorus.
Amongst the soloists will be West End singer/actor Nic Kyle, who toured with Elaine Page in 2012; soprano Charlotte Taylor who has performed with NZOpera and Showbiz; jazz and blues artist Kate Taylor of the All Girl Big Band; and Kira Josephson who recently played Nessarose in the Showbiz production of Wicked.
Bookings through Ticketek, 0800 842 538, www.ticketek.co.nz/showbiz or www.showbiz.org.nz/broadway-hitmen.

Lansdown House

Music at Lansdown

After Mozart’s Don Giovanni on St Patrick’s Day, ‘Lansdown Summer’ concludes its 5th festival at the beautiful heritage property at 132 Old Tai Tapu Road, with its second ‘narropera’ – a narrated format of opera. Weber’s ‘Der Freischütz’, The Devil’s Marksman will be held on 25 and 31 March.

Lansdown House
Lansdown House, the venue for Lansdown Summer

Narropera reduces an opera to its musical and storyline essentials. Performances last 85 minutes and are without interval, as mesmerising as a ‘Who dunnit’.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Wellington’s Evening Post wrote, “The great event of the operatic season, Der Freischütz, took place last night. The applause was immense… such cheers hardly ever have been heard before in this theatre.”
Fifty years later, the same newspaper wrote of another performance, “Lovers of operatic music will welcome the performance of Weber’s Der Freischütz, next Saturday. The best cast of soloists to be obtained in the Dominion has been engaged”.
The NZ Herald described a third performance of Der Freischütz as “one of the most beautiful compositions in the repertoire of operatic music, too well known to require any detailed statement of the plot”.
It is hard to believe that a work that was so loved and admired in early New Zealand is now unknown. So, head to Lansdown and discover the exquisite music and wonderful story of Der Freischütz, for yourself.
When and where: Giovanni 17 March; Freischütz 25 March and 31 March, The Golden Room, Lansdown House, 132 Old Tai Tapu Road at 8PM, parking in grounds.
Bookings, location map and more are available from www.lansdownsummer.com or c/o Box Office, Court Theatre 03-963 0870. Take a picnic, gates open at 6.30pm.

Singing in Italian

Cantare in Italiano: learning to sing in Italian

If you’ve long dreamed of singing Italian and sounding Italian, then Claudia Lues can help you realise your dream.

Singing in Italian

“I think my love of music began in the crib,” says South African born Claudia. “My parents are Italian; my mother sang all the popular Italian songs, including opera and my maternal grandfather was a conductor, so music surrounded my entire life.”
In response to the earthquakes, Claudia pitched the idea of Italian singing classes to the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association (CWEA). “I felt the need to do my bit – to help traumatised people.”
The CWEA gave her a ‘test run’ to ascertain interest. “That was in 2014. I began with six students then it kept growing. Now I have 15…and I would love more!”
Claudia says there’s no need to feel apprehensive about singing in a foreign language. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Italian; the joy is in singing the words – that’s how you learn the language.”
The song repertoire ranges from classics to modern – “From Puccini to Bocelli, we do it all,” Claudia says. “My students say the class is the highlight of their week; they’ve grown to love the language so much, they’ve taken trips to Italy!”
Claudia feels very fortunate to be doing what she loves most. “It’s who I am – a musical Italian. To share my passion and make people smile, that’s my goal. For me, it’s pure pleasure.”
For more information visit
admin@cwea.org.nz.