From Brisbane to my native New Zealand on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Christchurch was a moving experience for The King's Singers on our Antipodean tour.
Warm weather, great restaurants, friendly people, a man-made lagoon, the fantastic Queensland Pops Orchestra... Talk about an advertisement for Brisbane!
We had a fabulous time giving a masterclass to some local ensembles (including the Birili Blokes) and finishing our Australian leg of the tour in style. We even managed to squeeze in Land of Hope and Glory as an encore, complete with flag-waving and whatnot... You would've forgiven anyone for thinking they were at a Last Night of The Proms concert! With conductor Barrie Gott at the helm we were in good hands, and I hope Brisvegas music lovers keep supporting the terrific group of musicians at the Queensland Pops Orchestra.
As I mentioned in my first blog, I distinctly remember the aerial view of the Southern Alps as I left the land of the long white cloud back in June 2010. Upon re-entry to New Zealand for The King's Singers concerts here, I was greeted by a lovely Auckland day across the Waitakere Ranges and all the little inlets and bays that dot the Manukau Harbour. It was a really special feeling and I couldn't wait to be surrounded by people that really knew how to pronounce English! We had a busy 24-hour stopover in Auckland with media appointments for national TV and radio. I enjoyed getting to meet the presenters I'd watched and listened to for years. Heaps of friends and family from around NZ were able to see and hear the group "live" in the comfort of their own homes.
Then it was off to Hamilton, otherwise known as HamilTron or the Tron "city of the future"... Perhaps a little harsh on traditionally what has been a largely farming-based community. It has certainly smartened up since I last visited and has become a bit trendier. Still, its proximity to Auckland means that comparisons between the two have become a bit tongue-and-cheek! On the agenda in Hamilton was a masterclass (Waitomo Caves Choir, Mighty River Harmony and Hamilton Civic Choir), a sold-out concert in arguably the finest acoustics in the Southern Hemisphere at The Gallagher Performing Arts Centre at Waikato University, and a video shoot of some educational programs for The King's Singers Foundation. All three went fantastically well and the standing ovations after each half of the performance was very special. A beautiful Maori love song, or waiata, was a particular hit with the audience, which included many singers from the masterclass, not to mention my godparents who'd come all the way from Waipukurau, and some other close family friends who have relocated to Hamilton because of the Christchurch earthquake. It was a poignant day for New Zealanders and particularly for Cantabrians, as it marked the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that claimed 185 lives. In memory of the lives lost and the trauma and devastation that still exists, we dedicated It's a New World to them. Earlier in the day it was a moving experience for the guys when they came out of the hotel to observe a nationwide two-minute silence at 12.51pm.
I can't wait to see my friends in the Cathedral Choir and at Burnside High School when I visit my father next week. I'm aware the city I remember is gone forever, but I'm encouraged and in awe of their determination to rebuild and move forward. Kia kaha, Christchurch!
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New Zealand-born baritone Christopher Bruerton has been appointed as the first ever foreign national member of The King’s Singers. His first official duty will be, by way of a wonderful twist of fate, a tour that returns him to his home nation, the sextet's first to the Antipodes in 27 years. Chris will be blogging exclusively for Limelight to give us an insider's perspective on The King's Singers' tour Down Under.
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