Review – Moving, stirring music – marking on Armistice Day

Armistice Day Concert

Dunedin RSA Choir and St Kilda Brass

Knox Church

Wednesday, November 11

After such a difficult “Covid year” for all music and sporting groups, Dunedin’s RSA Choir and A Grade band St Kilda Brass gave their first proper concerts of the year in Knox Church on Wednesday evening, with focus on Armistice Day – such an important date in world history.

Directed by Karen Knudsen and Shane Foster, with organist David Burchell, Johnny Mottershead at the piano and excellently compered by Scott Bezett, the large audience enjoyed a well-chosen programme of music, which began Eric Coates’ spine-tingling Dambusters March. This dynamilcally punctuated, forward-moving brass favourite was a perfect opener, then the choir responded with Sound Ye Trumpets gilded with trumpet obligato.

There many highlights, mostly with impressive solo passages by guest soloist University of Otago first-year performance vocal student, Alexander McAdam – I Vow to Thee My Country, Cohen’s Hallelujah and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.

Brass items included an innovative arrangement of The Girl I Left Behind Me, Evening Hymn and Sunset with stunning legato blends and outstanding trumpet passages (Ioan Fuller), warm mellow tones for the thematic lyricism of Benedictus by Karl Jenkins and Battle of Britain March. Five cornet players delivering Leroy Anderson’s Buglers’ Holiday at top speed was a crowd favourite.

The choir dedicated a moving performance of The Lord’s Prayer to Colin Challis – their last World War 2 veteran choir member, who died earlier this year. A very significant Ceremony of Remembrance included reciting the Ode, Charge (Jenkins) and Last Post sounded by Shane Foster on a bugle handed down from his grandfater, who had played this vintage instrument at Somme during World War 1 – so special.

Anthem from Chess with McAdam confident and secure in solo highlights ended a really enjoyable feast of music with voices, brass, organ and piano in perfect combinations of music-making.

Elizabeth Bouman

Review taken from Otago Daily Times (13 November 2020)

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