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Ghosts, Fire, Water: Music of the Element

Douglas Mews’ highly evocative Ghosts, Fire, Water lends its title to the upcoming concert by Nota Bene, one of Wellington’s finest chamber choirs. Maintaining its reputation for excellence and versatility, the group explores the surprisingly similar worlds of early music and modern repertoire with guest conductor Robert Oliver (Director of Music, St Mary of the Angels and Wellington’s Musica Sacra early music concert series).


The title piece draws its inspiration from a poem by James Kirkup, expressing the horrors of nuclear holocaust, after viewing the Hiroshima Panels. The programme also includes pieces by John Taverner, Schütz, Monteverdi, Palestrina and Morley, as well as Wellington composers Jonathan Crehan and Pepe Becker.


Jonathan Crehan was still at school when he was a finalist in the 2001 Auckland Philharmonia’s Young Composer competition. Since then he’s won a string of awards, including the 2008 Orpheus Publications Composition Competition (Australia) and the 7th ADAM International Cello Festival Young Composer Competition (2008). The women of Nota Bene will perform one of his latest choral pieces, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.


Nota Bene’s singers will also form small ensembles to perform madrigals and motets exploring the themes of ghosts, fire and water. Through all this blows the 16th-century Western Wynde Mass by John Taverner, based on the distinctly profane secular song Westron Wynde, which ends ‘Cryst, if my love were in my armes, And I in my bedde again!’.


Taverner may have written the mass to gain the approval of Henry VIII, who was certainly familiar with the song and may even have composed it himself. Taverner cloaks the simple song melody in music of increasingly dazzling brilliance.


Donald Nicolson, a leading Wellington keyboard player, will also play two pieces for solo piano, Aquarius I and II by Wellington composer and singer Pepe Becker.



Ghosts, Fire, Water: Music of the elements

Sunday 20 September, 7.30pm

St Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington

Tickets $25, concession $18, schoolchildren free

Door sales, or pre-book ph 027 446 3326

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