Symmetry – Conflict and Resolution
Inspirare choir, with Wellington College Chorale. Director, Mark Stamper
St. Andrew’s on The Terrace
Sunday 13 August 2017, 6:30 pm
On the programme cover for this unusual concert, there’s an image of a white dove struggling to take off in flight, in search of peace. It’s not soaring yet, still having trouble with its wings, in a telling metaphor for the concert’s theme of conflict & resolution, war & peace. A commentary, delivered by David Morriss, links each of the 17 songs to aspects of the endless cycle in history of recurring conflicts leading to inevitable wars. His reference to the insanely dangerous sabre-rattling between leaders of USA and North Korea presented daily to us, sharpened that theme. Would that the politicians in question had been at the concert.
Some of the city’s finest singers are in this choir – smallish in number (27 singers) but strong in voice, all with an obvious commitment to the vision of its director, Mark Stamper. It has been his practice to invite ensembles of young musicians with whom he also works, to join Inspirare in concert – this time, it was Wellington College Chorale, and there are also guest accompanists, aside from the principal accompanist, Rachel Thomson.
It is a considerable achievement to assemble a range of songs from quite disparate sources and to sequence them so they belong together. Some songs we know well, others not at all – That which remains, by Andrea Ramsay to a text by Helen Keller; Yo le Canto, by David Brunner, with flamenco-like clapping rhythms delivered with admirable skill by the Wellington College Chorale.
Elgar’s Lux Aeterna was soaring and soft by turns; Soldier Boy, set by John Milne to the poem by Siegfried Sassoon, featured a poignant solo by Richard Taylor. A haunting setting by Mark Hayes of Danny Boy had a soft swell of flute accompaniment by Rebecca Steel; the spirited Invocation and Dance used lively percussion from Jacob Randall and James Fuller. Homeland, after Holst, arranged by Randall Stroope, featured trumpet evocatively played by Michael Taylor from the choir loft, and carried some stunning vocal cadences, as also did the following For the Fallen by Mike Stammes.
Across the Bridge of Hope, by Jan Sandström, had an exquisite solo sung by Rowena Simpson, highlighting the grief for a 12 year old boy killed in the Armagh bombing. ”Orange and green does not matter now…” Indeed. Don’t even think about the songs we’ll be singing if nuclear war ever erupts. None I should think.
All Works of Love set a poem by Mother Teresa; a Quaker prayer became The Tree of Peace – with flute and trumpet, brother and sister, whispering and listening. The final song, We shall Walk through the Valley in Peace, ended a sensitively crafted concert from a choir that produces beautiful sounds within an impressive dynamic range. It is carving a unique niche for itself in Wellington. The full audience was clearly engaged, and will no doubt be looking to the next concert by Inspirare, on 5 November, The Cycle of Life, with guests BlueNotes from Tawa College.