The love of music has prompted 30 members of City Choir Dunedin to travel to the ends of the earth for their art.
Choir director David Burchell and the singers will wing their way to London over the next week to join the Parliament Choir and Southbank Sinfonia for a “return” performance of Dunedin composer Anthony Ritchie’s Word War 1-themed oratorio Gallipoli to the Somme.
The work was commissioned by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and its London-based principal guest conductor Simon Over, and had its acclaimed world premiere performance with City Choir Dunedin at the Dunedin Town Hall in October 2016.
The commission included a plan to give a European premiere performance of Gallipoli to the Somme in the United Kingdom – and that is now coming to fruition.
Burchell said the choir members had enjoyed performing the work in Dunedin, and so a good number had been keen to make the trip.
“It is definitely the farthest the choir has gone for a performance,” he said.
Simon Over is director of both the Parliament Choir and Southbank Sinfonia, and the City Choir singers will join these two organisations to perform Gallipoli to the Somme in London on June 2 and Oxford on June 13.
Dunedin-based soprano Anna Leese, who sang in the Dunedin performance, will travel to the UK to reprise her role, alongside UK-based baritone Jon Stanley.
Dunedin Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Tessa Petersen is travelling to London to perform the violin solo at both the Oxford and London performances.
Former Dunedin violinist Annabel Drummond, a current member of conductor Simon Over’s Southbank Sinfonia, will perform Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending in the first half of the concerts.
Ritchie, who was officially inducted as a full professor at the University of Otago this week, will also travel to the UK for the performances with his wife, Sandy.
“I was really pleased with the performance of the work here in Dunedin, and I am looking forward to hearing it again with a different orchestra and singers,” he said.
“It is lovely that Anna Leese is able to go over for the performances, too.”
During their European trip, which will double as a holiday, the Ritchies also plan to visit the World War 1 battlefields around Ypres.
“At this special time, it really felt as though a pilgrimage was in order,” he said.