Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

Review: GALS free concert

Sun 16 Feb 2014 In: Performance View at NDHA

GALS free concert Auckland City Art Gallery 16 February 2012 An Auckland Pride Festival 2014 Event Auckland's Gay and Lesbian Singers outdid themselves this afternoon, presenting a nicely-judged programme in a perfect setting and exhibiting many of their strengths. This was a free sampler concert in an acoustically excellent - for choral work - exhibition hall within the Auckland City Art Gallery. The hard walls and flooring and the soaring ceiling coupled with the narrowness of the space added just the right amount of reverb and resonance, and this slightly smaller than usual version of the choir just shone - or whatever the aural equivalent of shining is. Strangely, their first number and a long-time choir favourite, Somebody to Love, was the weakest offering. The choir seemed a little lacking in depth and energy, and the small solo moments sounded tentative and light rather than yearning and plaintive. But from then on everything went from strength to strength, showing what great work GALS can do with good songs and arrangements. Both Sides Now was a classic example, with richness and balance in the ensemble work which are becoming the choir's trademark. Married in London, Janis Ian's jaunty waltz-time song highlighting the injustice of being considered a married woman in some countries and 'living in sin' in others, was rich and full, while She Moves Through The Fair, with it's pre-Marriage Equality version lyrics restored to the original wording, was a wonderful showcase for Margaret Robertson. Her trained voice, with its beauty and confidence across the entire mezzo soprano range, is always a joy to hear. The benefit to a choir of singing a great song in an excellent arrangement was nowhere better illustrated than in (They Called the Wind) Maria. There was cohesion, control, power and passion here. It was as if all the singers found their diaphragms at once. Wow. In lesser concerts that would have been the peak and the audience would have left satisfied. But not this afternoon. There was even better to come. GALS' Skye Boat Song was damn near perfect. Lilting, grand, just sooo lovely. The human ear is particularly sensitive to the soprano frequency range, so singing the soprano part can be a very unforgiving duty. With Water Night, by Eric Whitaker, the GALS sopranos nailed it: full-throated, spot on pitch, every moment magnificent. And, without the assistance of accompaniment or a rhythmic backbone to the piece this was just conductor and choir soaring and floating together with confidence and consummate skill. We heard and felt the sun going down, mountain peaks gleaming above the darkening forest and the last glimmers of light on the waters.The enthusiastic applause from the standing-room only audience, including gallery-goers drawn to watch and listen from the upper gallery, was well-deserved. Then, the choir's current piece de resistance, the introduction to Toto's Africa. Performed just over a week ago at the Pride Festival's Gala opening show this evocation of a rainstorm on the African plains was seriously cool. Just how much the dead drama-configured acoustic of the Q Theatre sucked the life out of the piece during the Gala show was evident this afternoon when, with rubbing hands, finger snaps, thigh slaps and foot stomps, they conveyed to us tall grass rustling in the rising wind, the first raindrops hitting parched earth, then puddles, huge soaking raindrops pounding the land, crashes of thunder and then the final spatters of a passing, life-giving rainstorm. Truly stunning. What a pity the song itself is so choir-unfriendly, somehow lacking verve and drama. Not GALS fault, just the nature of the song, which no choral arranger has yet really cracked. Then a final tender-sweet rendition of Pokarekare ana, the love song which echoed around Parliament following the passing of the Marriage Equality Bill. Distilled down to songs GALS does best, presented in an acoustically supportive environment, confidence and terrific guidance from conductors Stephen Bowness and Margaret Robertson, this afternoon's concert showcased GALS well and proved that these non-professional, non-auditioned singers can foot it with the best of them. This afternoon's final and rowdy ovation was totally, richly deserved. - Jay Bennie Jay Bennie - 16th February 2014    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Sunday, 16th February 2014 - 7:44pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us