VIGOUR: Laura Funaki performs her solo as Edgecumbe Choir and its new musical director Chalium Poppy impress with the excellent performance of Gloria. Photo supplied


Performed by Edgecumbe Choir

Church of St George and St John,

“SING, then. Sing, indeed, with shoulders back and head up so that the song may go through the roof and beyond to the sky,” said Welshman Richard Llewellyn.

For some 60 or more years, most Thursday nights have seen members of the Edgecumbe Choir gather to practise for their next concert.

There have been many concerts, and anyone involved in any way with the choir, which began as a small church choir in the Presbyterian St David’s Church at Edgecumbe, will always be grateful for the dedication of past conductors and the loyalty and support shown by the Rangitaiki Plains and Whakatane communities.

However, the winds of change have been blowing and last Sunday in the lovely sunlit Church of St George and St John, before a large audience, a remarkable concert took place, given by the Edgecumbe Choir and its new director of music, Chalium Poppy.

It would seem from the very first notes from the choir, Poppy has provided an environment and instruction that has given the choir a new-found confidence in their ability to produce a beautiful tone.

Two works, both from the Baroque Era were chosen for this concert.
Henry Purcell, back in the late 17th century was a bright and shining British composer and musician. He was organist at Westminster Abbey and Keeper of the King’s Instruments along with other duties, among which was to compose music to an ode to celebrate Queen

Mary’s birthdays as they came along.

Come, Ye Sons of Art was the last of six odes and this was the first work the choir sang, taking up the first half of the programme.

The choir sang with confidence, the happy and graceful melodies dancing along joyfully.

Interspersed with these choruses were solos and duets sung by four visiting soloists: sopranos Tamsyn Smith and Katherine Bremner, from Tauranga, contralto Laura Funaki from Hamilton, and baritone Angus Simmons from Auckland.

Organist Hilda Bester from Papamoa accompanied the choir and the soloists captured the composers’ intentions with style and fluency.

The second half of the programme featured the Venetian composer Vivaldi, with his beautiful and famous Gloria, composed around 1713 to 1717. Here the choir showed real evidence of their trust in their new conductor.

Admirably at ease with the Latin text, in translation Glory to God in the Highest was sung with energy and vigour followed by the more mysterious and atmospheric On Earth Peace and Goodwill.

Sopranos soared through the lengthy phrases that built in intensity to then relax as another section of the choir took up the great message of hope for mankind.

The soloists again delivered sterling work in solos and duets.

The Edgecumbe Choir and Poppy are to be congratulated on their performance of these two works. You have raised your bar of musical excellence to a new height.

Sustained applause showed audience appreciation and we look forward to hearing more from this choir who have brought so much enrichment to the people of Whakatane and the surrounding areas.

Review by Christine Leaf

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