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Wellington May Workshop turns 30

The 30th anniversary May Workshop proved a huge success, with over 150 singers from across the North Island and upper South Island joining in for the weekend’s activities. Maestro Tecwyn Evans, who took the musical baton for the long-running event was given a simple (but by no means straightforward) task: “give us something that we don’t get to perform very often, and can learn in just over a day”. Tecwyn delivered on that in spades with a programme featuring the charming but rarely performed Vespers by Mozart, supported by a rousing version of Handel’s Zadok the Priest, and an assortment of Handel and Mozart opera choruses.

Such is the nature of the event, time was very much of the essence, with just 10 hours of rehearsal to put the programme together. This made for a sort of love/hate relationship with the Vespers, with its moments of difficult counterpoint, tempi and dynamic range. But with Tecwyn’s musical leadership and enthusiasm it all came together by concert-time on Saturday evening.

The May Workshop always includes guest soloists and this time they really did bring something special to the weekend. Sweden’s Susanna Andersson (and wife of Tecwyn Evans) amazed the audience and choir with her glorious voice. The moment she started to sing it had audience members reaching for their programme wanting to know whose this wondrous voice was. This culminated in a particularly beautiful and tender version of Laudate Dominum. A trio of NZSM student soloists (Will King, Luka Venter and Alexandra Woodhouse Appleby) also contributed and did a stellar job.

Working his magic at the piano throughout the weekend was Mark Dorrell, several times a conductor of the event himself. Mark added not only mastery of the keys, but was also instrumental in the lead up to event: selecting and preparing the NZSM soloists, and also assisting in putting together the repertoire for the event.

Given it was the 30th anniversary it was fitting to have regional chair Elizabeth Crayford end the weekend’s proceedings by noting two of the people who have been long serving supporters of the event. Judy Berryman, who has been involved in every single May Workshop and sung in all bar one, and Stanley Barnes, who has also been involved since the earliest days, and only missed twice over the entire 30 years.

The 2019 May Workshop dates have now been confirmed as May 3rd and 4th, once again being held in the Salvation Army Citadel. Further details about the event will be released in the coming months. Anyone wishing to pre-register for updates can do so by contacting Lynda Hunter – lyndahh31@gmail.com.

May Workshop 2018 programme here

May Workshops 1988-2018 details here