Tenor eager to take on the challenge

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James Adams laughs at the prospect of discussing highend classical music while the strains of The Wiggles can be heard from the tablet held by his daughter Isobel.
‘I was planning on taking a break after doing ‘Phantom’ last year, but that hasn’t really happened. It’s nice to be wanted though. Dunedin is great like that, there is always
something going on musically here.’
It’s a last-ditch attempt to encourage the busy, happy little girl to sit still, after Isobel has led her father on a merry dance several times around the central area of Wall Street mall during our interview.
Adams, widely admired as a very fine tenor indeed, takes it all in his stride, juggling fulltime work for Otago Regional Council and parenting a preschooler with his wife Gemma, with the demands of a steady Dunedin-based singing career.
‘‘Between all of that, we keep fairly active,’’ Adams said.
This week, Adams and fellow soloists Lois Johnston (soprano), Claire Barton (mezzo soprano), and Matthew Landreth (bass), are working with conductor David Burchell, City Choir Dunedin and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra to put the final touches on to two classical choral masterpieces — Haydn’s Theresienemesse (Theresa Mass) and CPE Bach’s Magnificat. The works will be performed at Dunedin Town Hall this Sunday afternoon, July 3, at 3pm.
Adams describes Haydn’s glorious and festive Theresienemesse as ‘‘elegant’’, and says it does ‘‘a great job of blending the familiar and the surprising’’.
Unusually for a large scale choral work, it includes a large amount of integration between the soloists — who often sing as an ensemble, and a chorus.
‘‘I love the integration of the soloists and chorus, and I think it adds something really special,’’ hesaid.
CPE Bach’s Magnificat has a more traditional format and features challenging and virtuosic arias for all of the soloists.
‘‘Personally, I don’t do a great deal in the work, just a solo aria and a duet, but they are both big challenges for me.’’
In order to meet those challenges, Adams has been working on the music for about eight weeks — in his studio and also in several sessions with David Burchell.
‘‘It has been fantastic to be able to work with David on the music, because he knows the music so well and has a good sense of what singers need,’’ he said.
A Dunedin native, Adams began his musical training in Dunedin before moving to Wellington to complete a degree in performance voice at the New Zealand School of Music. He performed in concerts and shows in New Zealand and Australia, before returning to Dunedin in 2014.
He has since sung a variety of roles, including Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute for Opera Otago, the Phantom in Musical Theatre Dunedin’s Phantom of the Opera, Aeneas in Little Box of Operas’ Dido and Aeneas, and as a soloist during Opera Otago’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
Later this year, Adams will present a recital of English Art Songs with Professor Terence Dennis (piano), and will also sing a role in Opera Otago’s production of A Christmas Carol.
‘‘I was planning on taking a break after doing Phantom last year, but that hasn’t really happened. It’s nice to be wanted though.
‘‘Dunedin is great like that, there is always something going on musically here.’’