The Royal Dunedin Male Choir

News and Reviews 2018

2018 Christmas Concert - Monday 3rd December 2018

Concert Review — Royal Male Choir in fine form

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir was in fine form on Monday with warm singing in the gentler numbers, such as Ave Maria - joined by flautist, Claudia Cooke - and had plenty of volume in reserve for big climaxes.

David Burchell's organ-playing added depth to several pieces.

It's good to see some young men in this choir; hopefully more will join as time goes on.

With four excellent guest artists, it was a full concert at the Dunedin Town Hall. Perhaps it is time to rethink the compere's long introductions, interesting as they are.

Anna Leese was the star of the show, filling the hall with her impeccable singing in three numbers, Canteloube's Bailero, from the Songs of the Auvergne; the aria Marietta's Lied by Korngold, and Adam's Oh, Holy Night. Dunedin is privileged to have a singer of this calibre available for such a concert.

Scott Bezett sang two pieces accompanied by Terence Denis, If I loved you, from Carousel, and the humorous baritone-focused I'm glad I'm not a tenor, with plenty of ''quotes'' from various operas.

The choir joined him in three of Stanford's Songs of the Sea.

Bezett's voice improves with each appearance, though in the vastness of the town hall some judicious amplification would have aided the audience's appreciation of detail.

Nathaniel Otley played two violin pieces with enormous technical skill and great musicality. In the first, John Adams' tender, winding Meditation, from Road Movies, he was given strong support by pianist John van Buskirk.

The second, Gillian Whitehead's Bright Silence for solo violin, is full of beautiful moments and sudden shocks. Otley played this difficult cadenza-like piece with apparent ease.

Pianist Moriah Osborne played Poulenc's Intermezzo in A flat with great warmth, and was joined by Terence Denis for Debussy's languorous En Bateau.

(Review by Mike Crowl of the Otago Daily Times)

Armistice Commemoration

First Church in Spring

In First Church - 11th November 2018

We joined the congregation and contributed two hymns to commemorate the signing of the Armistice to cease fire to end WWI - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (Paris time) 1918.

We sang Morte Christe and Gwahoddiad.

It was a particularly moving service and a good many spoke warmly of the choir's contribution to the commemoration.

Almost 60% of the 100,000 New Zealanders who went to war became casualties. More than 18,000 died of wounds or disease — 12,483 of them in France and Belgium. From a population of little more than a million people in 1914, this meant that about one in four New Zealand men between the ages of 20 and 45 was either killed or wounded. The impact of war, though, reached far beyond the individuals involved; most New Zealand families, communities, workplaces, schools and clubs were affected in a very direct way.

It is strongly argued that the impact of this loss of life of young people has had a profound impact on the age structure of Dunedin today.

Spring Sing

'Spring Sing' at East Taieri

At East Taieri Presbyterian Church - 14th October 2018

This seems to have become a most pleasant annual afternoon event. The congregation enjoyed the service and were treated not only to six songs from our recent repertoire, but were rewarded by the most splendid country afternoon tea. The sun shone brightly and that made it even better.

Choir in Royal Blue (No 2) uniform

Chor Farmer - 21st Australia - New Zealand Goodwill Tour

King's and Queen's Performing Arts Centre - 9th September 2018

On Sunday evening 9th September the King's and Queen's Performing Arts Centre was packed to capacity (and extra chairs were brought in) to hear the visiting choir from Tokyo deliver their 21st biennial concert.

The choir was formed by Hiroshi Masumoto when he was a 22-year-old student at the Tokyo University of Agriculture in 1967. Since then he has arranged much of their music and generously shared many pieces with Royal Dunedin Male Choir.

Hiroshi is a lover of Schubert's Lieder and this is reflected in the selection with which the choir started and showed their excellent command of diction. One member of the audience who has lived in Germany for 20 years commented later that their accents were excellent. They followed this with a number of popular Japanese songs about the four seasons - their rendition of 'Who has seen the Wind?' was highly evocative.

Christina Rossetti wrote the poem in English and Hiroshi set it to music...

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

There followed songs in Spanish, Maori, English and all were greeted rapturously by the audience.

Their pianist, Masako Yuyama, a concert pianist in her own right, played three Songs from Spain which celebrate the mood of one of the composer's favourite cities (Cordoba) and a popular dance form based on flamenco rhythms in 'Seguidillas'. The expression which Masako brought to these pieces was absolutely enchanting.

The King's High songsters treated us to 'Something' (in the way she moves) recorded by Elvis Presley (among others) and brought great credit to themselves and their conductor.

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir (who hosted Chor Farmer) contributed 'Rhythm of Life' in a very lively fashion at the beginning and joined Chor Farmer at the end in a rendition of 'Now is the Hour' both under the baton of Peter Keddell.

The resultant standing ovation was truly deserved and reflected the enjoyment of the audience who doubtless will need no persuasion to attend any future concert by Chor Farmer.

2018 Mid-Winter Concert - 18th June 2018

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir (director Richard Madden) and guests presented a variety concert to a good-sized audience in the town hall yesterday afternoon

After a strong, crisply articulated national anthem, the choir continued with Sound Ye Trumpets — a robust anthem by Handel and ideal repertoire for the 50 male voices. Stout-hearted Men and Land of Hope and Glory later in the programme achieved similar energy. Reasonably clear diction revealed the story-line effectively in Pedro the Fisherman and another highlight among the choir’s 12 numbers was Rhythm of Life, with excellent duo accompaniment from pianists Linda Folland and Frances Brodie.

The choir regularly gives performing opportunity to emerging musicians, many of whom go on to become professionals. Yesterday continued this tradition with two young violinists whose performances already demonstrate sound technique and maturity in interpretation. Victoria Williamson (year 12) played Kroll’s Banjo and Fiddle and Skyla Murray (year 8) delivered a very sensitive rendition of Romance Op. 26 by Svendsen, then together with their accompanist, John Van Buskirk, performed a well-balanced and sympathetically matched Concerto for Two Violins in D Major by J.S. Bach.

Other guest artists were baritone Rory Sweeney — currently at the University of Otago — who sang three solos, and Sophie Sparrow, an Otago graduate soon to leave for further voice studies overseas, who showcased the growth and maturity of her soprano range with three solos accompanied by Van Buskirk: all-time favourite Vilia (Lehar), Ritchie’s He Moemoa and the humorous aria by J Strauss Mein Herr Marquis. Sings Hilda (directed by Michael Grant and Ben Madden) presented a bracket of challenging choral arrangements from their recent Big Sing success.

David Burchell accompanied on the organ and the concert was compered by Lyn Murray.

(Review by Elizabeth Bouman of the Otago Daily Times)

QSM for Musical Director

The ODT records, on Monday 5th June, that Richard Madden, Musical Director of our choir, has been awarded the QSM for services to music. Congratulations Richard. Your father, who also conducted this choir, would be so proud.

Chor Farmer October 2018 in Tokyo

50th Anniversary Concert on 20th January 2018 to be held in Tokyo

Please see their web site for more details