Click on these headings to go to the article:
›› Go back to the main News page
Appointment of new Trustees
The Musica Sacra Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of two new Trustees: Diana Fenwick QSO and John Sinclair. Both are deeply involved in supporting and promoting the arts and are also active in arts administration.
John, a distinguished New Zealand architect who has represented his profession internationally, is presently Chairman of the Chamber Music New Zealand Foundation and a Board member of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Music Foundation.
Diana's present governance roles include Deputy Chair of the NZSO Foundation Board, Chair of the Aotea Centre Performing Arts Trust, Director of THE EDGE Board and a Trustee of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. She chaired the NZSO Board from 2005-2009.
Diana and John replace Graeme Edwards and Tim McWhannell who are retiring after serving on the Trust for two terms since it was formed four years ago. Musica Sacra is indebted to Tim and Graeme for their very valuable contributions over this period.
Musica Sacra announces its programme for 2009
After celebrating our Tenth Anniversary in 2008 "with confidence and utter professionalism" (New Zealand Herald), we have assembled another year of magnificent, inspiring and thrilling music. You can see a summary of these events at the bottom of this page.
As part of our programme we mark the anniversaries of composers Henry Purcell (d. 1659), George Frederick Handel (d.1759), Josef Haydn (d.1809) and Felix Mendelssohn (b.1809).
A highlight of this year will the Handel 250th Anniversary Concert, with a performance of his glorious oratorio Israel in Egypt on Sunday 22 November at 5:00pm.
NB This performance is to be confirmed, but please save the date in your diaries now.
UPDATE: September 2009: We regret that it has not been possible to confirm this performance, because of funding constraints. Instead, there will be a Concert for Saint Ceclia's Day, also on 22 November at 5:00pm. Click here for more details.
In other concerts during the year, we shall present a programme of English Choral Music, including Herbert Howells' motet on the death of US President John F Kennedy, Take him, earth, for cherishing; Vaughan Williams' rich and monumental Mass in G Minor for double choir and soloists; and one of the greatest examples of 20th century cathedral music, Sir William Harris' beautiful anthem Faire is the Heaven. Sunday 12 July at 5:00pm (venue to be confirmed)
JS Bach's Motets are the focus of another concert. These are highly demanding virtuoso works that are rarely heard on account of their extreme difficulty. This programme will include the finest four of Bach's collection of six: Jesu, meine Freude; Komm, Jesu, komm; Lobet den Herrn and, of course, the famous Singet dem Herrn. The concert will open with the very jolly Das ist meine Freude by Johann Sebastian's uncle Johann Ludwig Bach. Sunday 6 September at 5:00pm (venue to be confirmed)
On Good Friday (10 April) there will be two performances of Charles Wood's St Mark Passion. Musica Sacra last sang this very beautiful work in 2001, and before that it is thought not to have been performed in New Zealand since 1923. This is a highly expressive and romantic work that deserves to be more widely known. It was written to be an alternative piece to Stainer's The Crucifixion: it shares some similarities in scoring and structure to that work, but the music is infinitely superior. David Griffiths and Iain Tetley will be the vocal soloists, with Dr John Wells at the organ. Friday 10 April at 3:30pm and 8:00pm at St Matthew-in-the-City.
Our annual and always popular Christmas Concert, as usual on the last Saturday before Christmas, will be on Saturday 19 December at 8:00pm. The venue (to be confirmed) is likely to be the beautifully restored St Patrick's Cathedral.
As ever, the choir will sing Choral Evensong on the last Sunday of each month at St Matthew-in-the-City at 5:00pm. There will be no Evensong in October, because of Labour Weekend. A highlight of the Evensong programme will be the premiere performance on 29 March of John Wells' The Musica Sacra Canticles (Set Two), written for and commissioned by Musica Sacra with the generous assistance of the Donny Charitable Trust. Click here to read more about Dr Wells' composition. On Whit Sunday, 31 May (otherwise known as the Feast of Pentecost) there will be High Mass with glorious music by Tomas Luis de Victoria. On 26 July we look forward to welcoming our former Organist Woo-sug Kang as Guest Conductor.
On Sunday 14 June at 10.00am, Musica Sacra will join with the St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra and soloists for a liturgical performance of Haydn's Great Organ Mass (Grosse Orgelmesse Hob. XXII:4) . This delightful work features prominent solos for Musica Sacra's Donald Barriball Memorial Chamber Organ, to be played by Dr John Wells.
Click here to read about our private premiere screening of the acclaimed new movie Dean Spanley (Thursday 5 February at 8:15pm), which includes contributions to the soundtrack recorded by Musica Sacra. Some tickets are still available for this.
More detail will be published soon about a special Musica Sacra Garden Party, to be held at the Zealandia Sculpture Garden on 28 February (rain date 1 March). The renowned sculptor Terry Stringer has generously created an exclusive limited edition medallion, Theatre of Life, which will be available for sale at the Garden Party. The occasion will also include champagne, afternoon tea and musical performances by the choir, and by Indra Hughes at the organ.
SUMMARY OF EVENTS
|Private Screening of Dean Spanley
28 February (1 March, rain date)
|Garden Party at Zealandia
10 April (Good Friday)
|The St Mark Passion (Wood)
|Haydn's Great Organ Mass
|Concert of English Choral Music
|Concert of Bach's Motets
||Concert for St Cecilia's Day
Last Sunday of each month
Musica Sacra has commissioned new settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis
With the generous assistance of the Donny Charitable Trust, Musica Sacra has commissioned two new settings of the Evening canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) from composer Dr John Wells.
English-born John Wells is a graduate of Cambridge University where he was organ scholar at King's College Chapel under David Willcocks. He received his organ doctorate with high distinction from Indiana University after studies with Dr Oswald Ragatz. He is well-known to New Zealand audiences as a concert performer, composer, recording artist and teacher. Tours have taken him to Australia, England, Poland, Germany, France and North America; in 2008 he will visit the UK and Germany again.
Dr Wells is Organist to the University of Auckland and Visiting Artist-Tutor at the School of Music; he is also Auckland City Organist and has played a key role in the successful campaign to rebuild the Town Hall organ. He is Musica Sacra's Organist. He is a past-President of the New Zealand Association of Organists which elected him an honorary Fellow in 2002 for his services to organ music in New Zealand. He has made seven CDs including the very first New Zealand organ CD in 1989, and has recorded Bach's entire Well-Tempered Clavier on the organ.
He is much in demand as a composer; recent commissions include compositions for an organ tuned in meantone and the completion, after six years, of The Well-Tempered Piano, 30 preludes and fugues in all the keys. His compositions have used Maori and Tongan influences.
The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis form the backbone of every Choral Evensong. These texts have inspired many great musical settings from hundreds of composers over the centuries: and yet there have been very few settings by New Zealand composers. These two new settings from Dr Wells will be a very significant and important addition to the repertoire of New Zealand choral music.
The Musica Sacra Canticles (Set One) received their premiere performance at Choral Evensong on Sunday 29 June 2008 at 5:00pm at St Matthew-in-the-City. They were performed again at Choral Evensong in ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch on Sunday 26 October 2008 A complex and imposing work, this setting features a virtuoso organ part. Set Two will be forthcoming on 29 March 2009 at 5:00pm: this is be a setting for unaccompanied double choir.
Describing Set One, Dr Wells writes:
It has been a great privilege to write this, the first of two settings, commissioned by the Musica Sacra Trust with funding from the Donny Charitable Trust and dedicated to the Choir’s musical director, Dr Indra Hughes. The setting is scored for SAATBB voices and organ.
The Magnificat is often portrayed, quite reasonably, as a joyful song. A few settings, such as Howells’ Collegium Regale, hint at a deeper and richer vein within the context. After all, Mary had had an experience that defies full understanding. And there was a darker side to the Nativity, too: some commentators have pointed out that “no room at the inn” reflected Joseph’s family rejecting the couple because of what was undoubtedly the scandal of an illegitimate pregnancy. This setting is therefore unequivocally serious yet with an expansive range of colour, drama and tension.
Simeon’s song, of course, is quite different. Near the end of his life, he was finally to see the baby, the Gentiles’ revelation and the Jews’ glory. Maybe, with a degree of prescience, he could sense dark days ahead. The opening of the music is elegiac but rises to triumph at the end of his song. The Gloria picks up on the positive mood, and ends serenely.
To visit Dr Wells' web site, click here.
The Choir records for a film score
Musica Sacra has recorded two short contributions to the score of the upcoming movie Dean Spanley, "a surreal Edwardian comedic tale of canine reincarnation that explores the relationship between master and dog and father and son", directed by New Zealander Toa Fraser and starrting Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown and Jeremy Northam. The musical score has been composed by Don McGlashan. The movie is set in England in 1905 and has been filmed in Norfolk, Cambridgshire and in New Zealand. In two scenes, the cathedral choir can be heard rehearsing in the distance: Musica Sacra has provided this music with works by William Byrd and William Boyce. Dean Spanley is due for worlwide release later in 2008.
The Armed Man comes to Auckland
click image to enlarge
Musica Sacra's Deputy Conductor Iain Tetley will be conducting the Auckland premiere of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in the Great Hall of the Auckland Town Hall on Saturday 7 June at 7:30pm. Invited by the South Auckland Choral Society to conduct this recent large scale work, Iain has added two other choirs, the Franklin Community Choir and his Waiheke Island choir Sing Waiheke, to form a massed choir of about 150 voices which will be accompanied by the St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra, enlarged specially for the occasion to around 60 players. The eight soloists required for the work include Pepe Becker, Margo Knightbridge, Dmitry Rusakov and Edward Scorgie, and the first half of the concert will feature the Fauré Requiem, rarely performed on this scale, also accompanied by the orchestra with Dr Indra Hughes playing the organ part. Reserved tickets are $45 from THE EDGE on 0800 289 842 or on their website www.the-edge.co.nz. A group concession is available and a service fee applies.
Musica Sacra announces its programme for its 2008 Tenth Anniversary season
Musica Sacra was founded in 1998 and so 2008 is the choir's tenth anniversary season. We have assembled a programme of magnificent music that celebrates some of the works we have performed in our first ten years, as well as introducing some masterpieces that we perform for the first time.
Our regular programme of Choral Evensong on the last Sunday of each month will continue at St Matthew-in-the-City, starting on Sunday 24 February. Many of these Services will feature the Donald Barriball Memorial Chamber Organ.
On Good Friday, 21 March, Musica Sacra will perform Dietrich Buxtehude's masterpiece Membra Jesu Nostri (The Limbs of our Lord Jesus). Written in 1680, this is a cycle of seven short cantatas, each of which is dedicated to a contemplation of a different part of Christ's crucified body: feet, knees, hands, side, chest, heart, and head. The choir will be joined by a small ensemble of expert baroque instrumental players and vocal soloists. In 2007, the choir's Good Friday presentation was given twice, at 3:30pm and 8:00pm, and both performances were attended by full houses: this pattern will be repeated this year.
In June, (15 or 22 June, date and venue to be confirmed), the choir will sing two of the greatest masterpieces of the choral repertoire: Palestrina's glorious Missa Papae Marcelli and Sir Hubert Parry's complete Six Songs of Farewell.
The choir's August concert (16 August) contrasts some modern repertoire (Herbert Howells' Requiem and American composer Eric Whitacre's powefully moving When David Heard) with one of the ultimate masterpieces of the Renaissance, Victoria's 1605 Requiem.
At Labour Weekend in October, the choir makes its first visit 'overseas' to the South Island, with a trip to Christchurch. On Sunday 26 October, Musica Sacra will sing both the Choral Eucharist and Choral Evensong in Christchurch Cathedral; and at 2:30pm on the same day the choir will join forces with Christchurch's Jubilate Singers (conductor Grant Hutchinson) for a joint concert in the cathedral, including Fauré's Requiem.
Musica Sacra was founded on 14 November 1998 and so we celebrate the significant milestone of ten years with a major orchestral concert, almost ten years to the day, on Saturday 15 November at Holy Trinity Cathedral, with a superb programme of music by Handel. Both the words and music of Handel's Ode for Saint Cecilia celebrate the power of music, and there can surely be no more appropriate way to mark this special occasion. The Ode will be joined by Handel's Coronation Anthem Let thy hand be strengthened and the colourful and dramatic Chandos Anthem No 11, Let God arise, with its vivid word-painting and excitingly vigorous music, as well as a Handel Organ Concerto to be played by conductor Dr Indra Hughes.
Last year's Christmas Concert at St Patrick's Cathedral was attended by a very large standing-room-only audience, and we expect that that will be true again at our 2008 Christmas Concert on Saturday 20 December.
We look forward to welcoming you during this important anniversary year for Musica Sacra, and promise you a year of superb music.
Conductor elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
Indra Hughes is pleased to announce that he has been elected a
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
The Society was founded in 1754 by William Shipley, a painter and social activist. He brought together a group of individuals to propose a manifesto for the Society - "To embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine arts, improve our manufactures and extend our commerce". The first meeting of the RSA was held in London on 10th April 1754. The RSA today is an independent, non-aligned, multi-disciplinary registered charity. There are over 20,000 Fellows from all walks of life, but they have in common a record of achievement and an ability to make a difference. Past Fellows include Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson, Michael Faraday, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Dickens, Robert Stephenson, Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The Current Fellowship is just as rich and diverse, and includes Nelson Mandela, Professor Stephen Hawking, Cherie Blair, Anita Roddick (Body Shop founder), and Dame Elizabeth Murdoch.
Click here to visit the RSA web site.
CD Launch date set: 10 October 2007
The choir's latest Cd recording, Christmas a cappella II, will be launched at a function in central Auckland on 9 October; it will be available in shops from 10 October.
Our first recording, Christmas a cappella, was number one in the classical charts; our new recording has been designed to be a sequel to it. Click Latest Cd Recording in the menu at left for more information.
Conductor awarded a Doctorate
9 March 2007
Indra Hughes, the Conductor of Musica Sacra, is the first person in New Zealand to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts (University of Auckland). This new degree is described as "a performance-centred degree that consolidates and 'fine-tunes' the skills of musicians already working at an exceptional level.
The principal focus is performance that is firmly grounded in research. The requirements are divided between high level performance and a supporting thesis closely related to the student's performance specialisation." Indra submitted a thesis in which he proposed a number of new theories about the unfinished ending of JS Bach's monumental last work, The Art of Fugue. To read more about this, and to download the thesis, please visit Dr Hughes' own web site at www.indrahughes.com
Musica Sacra announces its programme for 2007
24 January 2007
Another exciting year of varied and magnificent music, ranging from Monteverdi to Mahler, lies ahead for Musica Sacra and its audiences.
Choral Evensong, at St Matthew-in-the-City on the last Sunday of each month, continues at the new time of 5:00pm, with a programme of Anglican Cathedral Music from Tomkins, Gibbons, Byrd and Weelkes to Stanford, Wood, Howells, Vaughan Williams and Patrick Gowers: many of these services will feature the Donald Barriball Memorial Chamber Organ in Tudor and Restoration repertoire.
On Friday 9 March the choir will form part of a large chorus for a performance of Mahler's Symphony No 2 at the Auckland Town Hall. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by James Judd and this important concert doubles as both the opening night of the Auckland Festival AK07 and the NZSO's 60th anniversary.
Good Friday, 6 April, sees two performances (afternoon, 3:30pm and evening, 8:00pm) of our annual presentation of Good Friday music. This year we present Allegri's Miserere and a sequence of wonderful music by William Croft, a London contemporary of Handel. His magnificent and moving anthems O Lord God of my salvation; O Lord, rebuke me not; and Hear my Prayer, O Lord will be presented along with his famous setting of the Burial Service, as sung at the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales and HM The Queen Mother. Nicola Edgecombe, soprano and Robert Costin, organist will be our guest artists. This performance will feature the Donald Barriball Memorial Chamber Organ.
Saturday 5 May sees the choir join forces with the prestigious Royal Copenhagen Chapel Choir and their conductor Ebbe Munk in a concert at Holy Trinity Cathedral.
In May, June and July Musica Sacra will record a second CD of Christmas Music, Christmas a Cappella 2, for release later in the year on the Atoll label. This CD will follow on from the chart-topping success of Christmas a Cappella, the choir's first recording.
A concert of music by Monteverdi and Cavalli on Sunday 11 November at St Matthew's will be the choir's first foray into Venetian repertoire. Monteverdi's well known Beatus Vir and other works will be sung alongside the wonderful but much less well known 6 part mass Missa In Illo Tempore in a New Zealand premiere. The choir will be joined by a baroque string ensemble, with Dr John Wells at our new chamber organ.
The choir's annual Christmas Concert will take place as usual on the last Saturday before Christmas: Saturday 22 December.
Further details of all these events can be seen on our Concerts & Services page.
Change of time for Choral Evensongs in 2007
In 2007 our services of Choral Evensong at St Matthew-in-the-City continue on the last Sunday of each month from February to November, but at the new time of 5:00pm. This change has been made to accommodate scheduling changes in respect of other regular events at St Matthew's.
Conductor launches new website
1 May 2006
Indra Hughes, the Conductor of Musica Sacra, has launched his own personal website www.indrahughes.com. Like this website for Musica Sacra, the new site has been expertly designed by JeliNet (see below for a link). Please visit Indra's new site and join the mailing list there.
New Zealand Herald article about the choir
Music brings light in darkest hour - Indra Hughes plans to mark Good Friday with an improved Musica Sacra
by William Dart
You can read this article on the New Zealand Herald website: click here.
Assistant Conductor honoured by Royal Academy of Music
27 February 2006
Anita Banbury, one of Musica Sacra's two assistant conductors, has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London. The Associateship of the Academy (ARAM) is a prestigious award that is only offered to past students of the Academy "who have achieved distinction in the profession". We offer our warm congratulations to Anita on this well deserved recognition of her important contributions to music in New Zealand.
›› Go back to the main News page