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Joyous and eclectic, with heavy breathing

Before indulging in the heavy breathing of singing in public again, the Gisborne Choral Society had to await Alert Level 1 before it could perform Choral Capers, says musical director Gavin Maclean.

Finally, on Saturday, the company will present a “joyous and eclectic” programme of works that includes choral favourites, new guest artists, world folk-music and dancing, and audience sing-alongs.

“It’s a club sandwich, with bread-and butter Handel choruses on the outside, a meaty middle of Mozart and other morsels, and lots of salad and spices,” says Maclean.

Introduced and conducted by Amanda Maclean, who sang with and helped the 300-strong Wellington World Choir when she lived in the capital, some “world music” items are a fresh venture for the choir.

A comparatively new arrival to Gisborne, organist and music teacher Sean Scanlen will take a quick break from his role as musical director for Musical Theatre Gisborne’s The Addams Family to provide organ accompaniment and a sparkling solo piece.

“There is also a new vocal quartet, an awesome foursome of Catherine Macdonald, Madeleine Jones, Mary-Jane Richmond and Coralie Hunter, singing a capella, to whisk us back to the romantic era and the glorious cathedral setting of sixteenth-century Spain,” says Maclean.

Student soprano Rosie West will sing a passionate Mozart aria, while Jones and Macdonald will be joined by Gavin Maclean, with Hunter at the piano, for the famous trio, Soave sia il vento (May the wind be gentle) from Cosi fan tutte.

Also featured is the ever-popular double-piano duo of Land of Hope and Glory (from past Piano Extravaganzas).

Audience participation in the British patriotic song on the last night of the national event known as the Proms is a boisterous tradition in which many Promenaders dress up outrageously and wave flags and banners.

Britain’s Covid-19 alert response was the ostensible reason for the BBC’s decision not to feature Land of Hope and Glory, as well as Rule Britannia in the Last Night of the Proms.

The break from tradition prompted outrage from many, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson who suggested the nation stop “this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness”.

“I do think this country is going through an orgy of national embarrassment about some of the things that other people around the world love most about us,” he said.

The Land of Hope and Glory went ahead.

Choral Capers’ audience is invited to sing along with the tune along with other items as well as the Hallelujah chorus.

The concert will be followed by afternoon tea — “the ultimate leveller”, says Maclean.

Chances are, Boris would agree.

The Gisborne Choral Society presents Choral Capers, St Andrew’s Church, Saturday, 2pm. Entry, koha.

MUD, GLORIOUS MUD: Among works to be performed from an eclectic programme by the Gisborne Choral Society on Saturday is British comedy duo Flanders and Swann’s Mud, Glorious Mud, also know as The Hippopotamus Song. Picture by Milton H Greene