City Choir Dunedin: St Matthew Passion

Two weeks ago Scott Bezett appeared in the University of Otago School of Performing Art’s lunchtime concert as the Big Bad Wolf in a musical rendition of Red Riding Hood, complete with painted whiskers, fur pants, and a tail. Last week he sang the role of Jesus in JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Needless to say, it was quite a contrast.

Photo thanks to City Choir Dunedin

Scott’s first oratorio performance with the City Choir Dunedin was a raging success. His impressive projection, beautiful tone, and musical tenderness resulted in a stunning reflection of his impeccable talent and dedication. Alongside Iain Tetley, Lois Johnston, Claire Barton, Andrew Grenon, Malcolm Leitch, City Choir Dunedin, Christchurch City Choir, Fairfield School Forte Choir, and the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, the audience was treated to a majestic performance. Bach’s St Matthew Passion is a mammoth work, clocking in at just under three hours long, but the high quality ensemble executed the stunning work with great dedication and emotion. Iain Tetley (Evangelist Tenor) gave an exceptionally moving performance, his crisp warmly-coloured voice perfectly capturing the intensity of the story, and Bach’s musical portrayal.

Photo thanks to City Choir Dunedin

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra played to their usual professional standard, complete with notable baroque features including three keyboard continuo parts, oboe d’amoure, and viola da gamba. Polly Sussex’s excellent performance on the viola da gamba drew great interest from the audience, providing beautiful colour and interplay with the cello section in some of the sparser parts of the work. Tessa Petersen’s extended solo violin passages were exquisite, and the orchestra as a whole provided relentless energy and dedication to the challenging work.

Perhaps one of the strongest performances from City Choir Dunedin of late, the choir (alongside visiting guests), presented a fantastic musical force. While at times the clarity of their German deteriorated, and the group became understandably tired in the second half, the combined choir gave a well executed and incredibly moving performance. Solos from choir members Andrew Jeffries, Tyler Neumann, Ben France-Hudson, Nigel Tucker, Courtney Hickmott, and Vivienne Child, showcased just some of the talent the choir enjoys, and these short roles were successfully performed with precision and vigour.

Overall, the performance was excellent. David Burchell as conductor provided reliable leadership, and led the massive force of an ensemble with great success. Congrats to all involved on a fantastic performance!


Review by Ihlara McIndoe

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