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Saturday 11 April 2015

Review: GALS Pride Festival concert

Posted in: Performance
By Jay Bennie - 27th February 2015


GALS concert for Auckland Pride Festival 2015

Auckland Art Gallery 22 February

Conductor: Stephen Bowness

After all the dazzle and excitement of Saturday night's Pride Parade it was quite a change to retreat into the cool galleries of the Auckland Art Gallery for a short Sunday afternoon GALS concert.

This is a format and a venue in which it seems like the choir can do no wrong. Apirana Taylor's Carving was rich, crisp, soaring and quite beautiful.

Does Your Mother Know was by comparison a little muddy and one of those rare occasions when the light, bright and choir-friendly acoustic in the gallery worked against the singers.

Third song in and, jackpot! Somewhere Out There, by James Horner, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Plaintive but hopeful, this was stunning, partly due to the magnificently controlled singing or melodic harmonies of the whole choir but especially due to the superlative solo by Jayne Furlong. Pitched right in the middle of her range, there was no need for straining or evident effort and the resulting sweet phrases of yearning for an absent lover pierced straight to the heart.

Two iconic Maori songs Hoki Mai and Te Tarakihi were delivered well, with punch and energy, and the inclusion of flying sequined poi didn't hurt a bit.

Then came the second stunner of this concert. Into The West by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore and Annie Lennox, is a GALS staple which just keeps getting better and better. Even without the sly prompting of a standing ovation by conductor and MC Stephen Bowness I think most of the audience would have brought the roof down anyway.

The final song, Insalata Italiana by Richard Genee, was perhaps the weakest item. Not so much due to the delivery, which was as good as it has been in previous shows, but because I suspect quite a few in the audience weren't getting the musical in-joke in which the Italian lyrics are all musical terms sung in the style of the term - except for 'pizzicato' which didn't seem very pizzicato. Perhaps an explanation and a few performed examples in the introduction would help put it in better context.

This was a great concert, with GALS doing what they do best... singing with passion and cohesiveness in an acoustically-friendly venue and sending us out into the sultry Auckland afternoon wanting more.

- Jay Bennie

Jay Bennie - 27th February 2015

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