Review by Darrel Nitschke:
The promise of an afternoon of beautiful music was most certainly kept. A narrator steps forward and states “What happens to you in spring?”and I find myself immediately beginning to envision it. The blooming of rose buds, sunlight beaming through an open window, and a renewed feeling of life all around me. The members of the choir arise from dining tables placed at side of stage and take their rightful position centre stage, and so begins Salut Printemps, a ‘sumptuous programme of French music’ to welcome the coming of the floral season. As a choral singer myself, my eyes begin to gleam and my ears start to ring as I am being exposed to perfect vocal technique. Melody line after melody line, I am dazzled by what I hear. The regular narration also provides a theatrical aspect, enhancing the performance even further.
Under the artistic direction of Karyn Grylls, a choir of twenty-four members acted as a single, enchanting voice. Engaged from the first breath all the way to the release of the final note, the audience quickly found itself at the whim of the performers. Each phrase was rife with masterful detail and perfectly set the scene of a playful and blossoming Spring season. Chosen soloists effortlessly filled the theatre with stunning resonance when their opportunity arose, causing me to lean forward in my seat in disbelief countless times. The narrations continue to provide beautiful imagery, which is then reiterated by the gentle accompaniment and choral sound that follows.
The choir continued without rest for a little over an hour, delivering each piece with the same level of intensity and focus as the one before. It was clear that every musical phrase had been treated with the utmost care. Every breath, articulation, vowel, and dynamic, all had been enriched by expertise. Voices New Zealand shares a wonderful, musical experience that can be appreciated by anyone with a remote admiration of music. And more than that, the sophisticated pieces of Debussy and Poulenc demonstrate the versatility of the human voice and all that it is capable of. The Tauranga Arts Festival has taken the opportunity to highlight the beauty of classical choral singing, an art form that is often overlooked or simply misunderstood. I commend the festival organisers in celebrating such a diverse range of artistic talents, as well as the coordinators and members of Voices New Zealand for such a powerful performance in this years festival.
Review by Dani Sigley:
Je vous aime, Voices New Zealand! And this is simply the truth, as I wholeheartedly loved the Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir’s performance - Salut Printemps. This show of all French music perfectly embodies the feeling of Spring; bright, cheerful and full of life. From start to finish, as an audience member, you are always on the edge of your seat, unable to look away from the beautiful sounds occurring on stage. Whether you have a love of choral music or are just looking for a new cultural experience, this is a show that should not be missed.
From the moment I sat down, I was immediately drawn to the collection of singers sitting on tables that you can imagine right in the streets of France. From the very first chord from the piano, you are instantly drawn into the atmosphere, and with the power of music you start to imagine yourself listening to these wonderful voices alongside the Eiffel Tower or Seine River. With the repertoire ranging from romantic tunes to four quirky songs about a dromedary, a crayfish, a carp and a cat, for not one moment do you find your mind drifting off elsewhere - each song is engaging and interesting. Going into the show, I thought to myself, ‘If this is all in French, how will I know what the song is about?’ However, thanks to the constant facial expressions on every single singer’s face, I could grasp a sense for what the lyrics were suggesting, without even knowing the language. The actual vocal side of things was absolutely flawless. Having participated in a choral group myself, it was immensely pleasurable to see the amount of talent the choral scene in New Zealand has, and where exactly choral singing can take you as a vocalist. The crisp ending of phrases, the perfect resonance, and never failing technique had my levels of respect through the roof. This high standard of performance can be accredited not only to the members of the choir, but the artistic director Karen Grylls - who is a world-renown conductor and tutor. Her expertises definitely helped shape the professional nature of the group and can be praised deeply. A mention needs to go to pianist Rachel Fuller, who brought the whole performance together with incredible accompanying.
It is absolutely necessary for any lover of music to go see Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir in concert. You are in for a treat with some of the best singers in the nation - and an exceptional conductor and pianist. This show welcomed Spring in the best possible way - through the universal love of music.
Review by Iya Jarbadan:
Salut Printemps! Welcome, Spring.
Voices NZ is the premiere chamber choir of the 2017 Tauranga Arts Festival, conducted by the wonderful Karen Grylls. The repertoire of Salut Printemps celebrates the season of Spring and audibly illustrates the beauty of growth, of flowers, of evenings and, of the youth and love that revolve around it. The programme, of course, is entirely in French - a language of love. Before each piece, Catrin Johnsson - Voices NZ’s Vocal consultant, translates each piece in order for the audience to understand the imagery.
We are gripped at the mercy of the conductor as she finesses the changes in dynamic and tempo within each song. She leaves us at the edge of our seats during each diminuendo, making us wonder whether the choir can go any quieter than they already are. The soloists’ voices resonated within Addison Theatre and make us witness magic before our very ears.
The choir sings beautiful melodies that exude images and emotions so vivid that you’re left sitting there with bated breath, waiting for the conductor to lower her hands and break the spell. The cleverly chosen repertoire matches to the rhythm of our heartbeats, giving off a calming feeling that is much like Spring itself.
Choral music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it may be an acquired taste. There’s a stigma that revolves around classical art music being boring or nondescript. However, Salut Printemps an experience that you will not regret attending. It is fleeting, magical and takes you somewhere that you may never have been before. Who knows, you might think it has a certain je ne sais quoi.