Dalewool Auckland Brass’ Christmas concert with The Graduate Choir, New Zealand is almost as well established and traditional now as the festive season itself.
Completing the Holy Trinity is the wonderful Parnell Cathedral, holding the best part of a thousand people, some by the coach load, from right across Auckland and beyond.
The Graduate Choir need no introduction here; led by the inimitable Terence Maskell they have been described as a ‘national treasure’, in high demand to perform across the country and beyond, for international dignitaries such as our own Prime Ministers and even US President Bill Clinton.
Dalewool’s Musical Director for the evening, Rupert D’Cruze, comes from a strong choral background and this is clear in the way the band performs; assured, confident, and full of contrast, colour and expression.
The evening was also used to launch ‘Christmas Magic’ a brand new album featuring the music of both the band and choir, separate and together. Much of the music on this CD was appropriately featured during the concert.
It is hard to choose highlights when everything on offer shone so brightly, but for me the Wilcox carol arrangements (O Come all Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing) simply cannot be topped, such almighty sounds, and what an amazing venue for the music to fill.
Each ensemble also brought something of their own to the event; during a haunting, a capella rendition of Silent Night it was almost possible to believe that the whole of Parnell had slowed to a reflective halt. Dalewool Brass offered some fine soloists, notably cornet player John Lewis strolling effortlessly through O Holy Night and Carolyn Ramsbottom debuting with the band and her warm and dark Away In A Manger. Appropriate on a muggy Auckland evening!
Traditional Christmas music and light, festive works were the order of the day, but the brass band reminded us why they are New Zealand’s best with Prokofiev’s Troika from the film Lieutenant Kije. The final flourish of this three minute thrill-ride, packed with energy and style, may still be ringing around the Cathedral now!
We all left full of Christmas spirit (and a little wine), and many of us with a souvenir in the form of a CD. The album itself is beautifully performed by both ensembles, timeless music that is sure to be treasured each year at this time. I hope the high standards of recent years continue in to 2011 and beyond, consistently Auckland’s finest musical Christmas present.