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25 April 2018 / News
We are delighted to be joining forces with opera singer Jared Holt to premiere a new song cycle, In Memoriam, by New Zealand composer Janet Jennings - settings of poems by poet and soldier Edward Thomas, who was killed in the Battle of Arras in 1917.
Jared Holt was born and raised in Christchurch and, after winning the Mobil Song Quest in 2000, continued his studies in the UK before embarking on a freelance singing career which has included roles for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Giuseppe Verdi Trieste, Opera Australia and Opera New Zealand.
The song cycle In Memoriam features four poems by English poet, essayist and novelist Edward Thomas. Thomas wrote most of his poetry during the WW1 years, inspired by his strong friendship with Robert Frost. The four poems are represented by four different movements: The Trumpet, The Owl, The Gallows, and In Memoriam, and are typical of his work in that they blend and shift between meditative recollections of the English countryside and his emerging belief that he must fight to save it - happiness lies just out of reach. Thomas was killed on Easter Monday, 1917.
Composer Janet Jennings is one of New Zealand’s leading composers for voice but also writes for a wide range of instrumental forces. Her PhD studies in composition were assisted by a doctoral scholarship from the University of Waikato and a Fulbright scholarship allowing for travel and study in the United States. Janet’s recent successes include the opera Flowing Water (with libretto by Witi Ihimaera), premiered at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival in February 2018; ANZACS – A Generation Lost in Legend, a large scale setting of NZ war poetry for choir, vocal soloists, brass, organ, violin and percussion, performed last year in Auckland, Sydney and Newcastle; and Magnificat from a Garden in the Antipodes, a setting of poems by Christchurch poet Ursula Bethell for two choirs, soprano solo and flute. Magnificat was first performed in Christchurch and Hong Kong in 2017 and was performed in early 2018 by The Philharmonic Chamber Choir in Singapore. Her latest work, In Memoriam for tenor and string quartet, was written with assistance from Creative New Zealand.
Our concert will open with Puccini’s elegiac Crisantemi, followed by Stravinsky’s Concertino for String Quartet of 1920 before concluding the first half with the premiere performances of In Memoriam by Janet Jennings. Filling the second half is Beethoven’s epic opus 132 quartet, a paean of thanksgiving written soon after his recovery from a life-threatening illness.
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