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A Sea Symphony

A Sea Symphony

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  • Sat 7 May ’16, 7:30pm – 10:00pm


Michael Fowler Centre, 111 Wakefield Street, Wellington


All Ages

Behold, the sea!

The sea holds a special significance for all island nations. So it’s ultra-fitting for Wellington that the Orpheus Choir’s upcoming concert features three sea-focused masterpieces.

The programme sets sail from the Hebrides, with Mendelssohn’s gorgeous and enduringly popular sketch of “Fingal’s Cave”. From the music, nobody could guess how badly Mendelssohn was suffering from seasickness when he visited the cave - it obviously didn't spoil his awe of the place.

We then journey south to Suffolk to meet up with Britten’s Peter Grimes, with the Four Sea Interludes. Peter Grimes is a fisherman whose apprentices have a nasty habit of turning up dead. Villain or victim of society's prejudices - or both? Britten's famous music brings a depth to Grimes' character that his source material (a poem by George Crabbe) lacked. The Sea Interludes show the sea in various moods and at various times: Dawn, Sunday Morning, Moonlight and Storm.

The second half of the concert features Vaughan Williams’ epic A Sea Symphony. You can almost imagine that Vaughan Williams was sitting in Wellington when he wrote it. From the start, it immerses the audience in its bustling harbour scenes, storm surges and quiet moonlit beaches, and finally takes them across the open ocean and beyond the horizon into the unknown - a metaphor for life itself.

Vaughan Williams selected sections of Walt Whitman's poetry for his libretto, including poems commemorating ships that sank in the English Channel and off the coast of Nova Scotia (and, coincidentally, the concert occurs on the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania during World War I). The text brilliantly evokes the excitement and the power of the sea, and also celebrates the courage and commitment of sailors everywhere.

Internationally acclaimed soloists Lisa Harper-Brown and James Clayton, who are both firm favourites of Wellington audiences, will join the Orpheus Choir and Orchestra Wellington in bringing Vaughan Williams' masterpiece to life. Join them on their journey across the sea.

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