Mahler Resurrection with Wings
40 MONTHS AGO
'With wings that I have gained
in a fervent striving for love
I shall rise to a light
which no eye has ever seen!'
This weekend I travelled to Christchurch to perform a very special symphonic work with the Christchurch Symphony and Melbourne Youth Orchestras. Conducted by Tom Woods, these two orchestras made up a total of 117 players, and joined forces with a massed choir of about 100 voices along with soprano Amanda Winfield-Atlas and myself as soloists. We were performing Gustav Mahler's achingly beautiful and terrifying 'Resurrection' symphony.
As you can imagine, with over 200 people and instruments to squeeze onto a stage, and with poor Christchurch having lost many of its performance venues, the CSO had to think a little outside the square when finding the right place to host this concert. And what a venue they found!
The Air Force Museum in Wigram, Christchurch is a magnificent building, and home to some 32 military aircraft, including the Lockheed Hudson MKIII in this picture. This amazing aircraft had a funny story - it had been bought by an Oamaru farmer (goodness knows why) and used as a chicken coop after its service in the war, before being purchased and restored by the museum!
The Museum kindly moved some of the planes around for us to make room for our audience seating and orchestra, and we performed to a full house. The acoustics were surprisingly good, too!
The Symphony, with its themes of the never-ending cycle of life and death made for an evening of contemplation and wonder. I felt like the presence of all this military material and all the gleaming silver wings were a fitting foil for this music, which was at times warm like a lullaby, and at others terrifying, as if we were looking into hell itself.
A friend of mine was in the audience, and told me how a gentleman took his seat next to him at the beginning of the concert, reclined right back and closed his eyes and didn't move during entire eighty-minute symphony. At the end he got up, wiped tears from his eyes and said 'Crikey, that was good'.
And it was. I felt very lucky to have had the chance to sing this work at such a young age, and to share the experience with Amanda Winfield-Atlas, a stunning soprano who moved me to tears with her singing. Our audience was moved, too - we received a standing ovation and everyone was buzzing after the performance.
Next up for me is the Lexus Song Quest Grand Final in Auckland on the 26th of July. I'll be posting some more updates about that next week.
My sincere thanks to everyone who has donated to my campaign already - I am very touched by your generosity and it is fantastic to have you alongside me.