A CHORAL GALA FOR TEAPOT

Our conductor in 2021, Ebbe Munk, has sent us these notes on his choice of programme.

“I do feel very honoured to be invited to conduct the 21st year celebrations of the Teapot Summer School in 2021. I am equally happy to present a gala program that aims to show the powerful diversity of choral music:

a strong nz component

One of New Zealand’s great contemporary composers Dorothy Buchanan has combined her own poetry and music in her Songs of Love and the Land – a wonderful theme for a central part of the program where choral sounds blend with brilliant solo singing and instrumental effects. Buchanan’s piece was premiered by Judy Bellingham in Christchurch in 1992.

The theme of love and the land continues in a brand new telling about The Earth Mother Papatūānuku – a haunting and uplifting new work for choir, organ and taonga pūoro by internationally rising star, Auckland composer and loved Teapot regular Chris Artley. Papatūānuku features overtone singing, chanting and stirring melodies, designed to create an evocative landscape, to complement the text in te reo. We are delighted to be joined by Bob Bickerton from Nelson who will be playing the taonga pūoro.

A new and fascinating arrangement of the beloved Pōkarekare ana together with a salute from Scandinavia, Carl Nielsen’s Lullaby, will frame the songs of love and land.

and a substantial classical element

But the Teapot celebrations also need a classic centre piece! And what can better express the inner spiritual life of humanity than Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude, one of the greatest but also one of the most challenging pieces ever written for choir. In this work, with its drama of life and death, it is planned to have a string quartet accompany the choir.

Finally framing the gala program we add some indisputable major UK choir classics accompanied by trumpets, timpani and organ.

With the words of John Milton:

Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine Sounds, and mixed pow’r employ,
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce

Hubert Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens has long been a landmark for the Anglican choir tradition – a musical ode of praise and harmony in the sumptuous style of late romantic music. And a part of Teapot history as well, having been sung at the first Summer School in 2001.

And what choir piece can bring so much shared pleasure of singing as George Frideric Handel’s Zadok the Priest? Teapot Summer School has been about sharing and improving choir singing for 21 years thanks to Carl Browning and Inga Lane – so let’s all meet and celebrate their great vision with this piece by Handel that brings out so much passion, dignity and joy!  And we will add a few surprises as well…”       

For those who want to familiarise themselves with some of the repertoire before arriving at Teapot, the following links may be useful:

Bach, Jesu, meine freude (YouTube)
Has music score with it. Performed by Netherlands Chamber Choir.

Parry, Blest Pair of Sirens (YouTube)
NYCGBs and David Willcocks from 2008.

Handel, Zadok the Priest (YouTube)
Performed at the wedding of the Crown Prince of Denmark with Ebbe Munk conducting.

Photo courtesy of Stuff/Nelson Mail.