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Rocking in the South Pacific

A poetry reading with a difference, is how conductor Gavin Maclean describes the fringe-festival offering for the next two Tuesday nights.

On October 8 and 15, the Gisborne Choral Society and guests bring Shaky Places to earthquake-strengthened St Andrew’s Church which, since the 2007 shake-up has remained as steady and acoustically sound as the wise man’s house built on rock.

Shaky Places is a song cycle based on 14 contemporary poems by New Zealand poets such as Brian Turner, Jenny Bornholdt, Sam Hunt, Lauris Edmond and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.

The subjects are variously serene, mythical, quirky, comical, and tragic, each one an icon of New Zealand life or history, says musical director Gavin Maclean.

“The music illuminates the words and weaves the whole into a satisfying structure that emerges from the depths of the Erebus tragedy and the Christchurch earthquakes into blissful sunshine at the end.

“Writing for a community choir, composer Felicity Edgecombe avoided trendy sophisticated styles. Her genius shows in catchy tunes, a mix of upbeat and downbeat; folky, jazzy and haunting to suit the words.”

The piano accompaniments, played by Coralie Hunter, are also richly varied, and will be sprinkled with deft touches from Laura Gilding on flute, Robin Woods on clarinet, Chris Reynolds on cello, Bill Ngatuere on guitar, and Amanda Maclean, woodblocks. The four solo voices of Catherine Macdonald, Mary-Jane Richmond, Samantha Tamatea and Bruce White will also be melded into the choral texture.

The Gisborne Choral Society presents Shaky Places, St Andrew’s Church, Tuesdays 8 and 15 October, 7.30pm. Adults $10, students $5.