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Thursday 10 November 2016

GALS' The Full Catastrophe

Posted in: Entertainment
By Jay Bennie - 12th August 2016

Auckland's GALS choir hits the stage tomorrow afternoon in a concert titled The Full Catastrophe.

“We all encounter disasters of some sort in our lives - natural disasters, personal catastrophes or misadventures in love - and we've chosen few songs that refer to each - once we started looking there was a huge range to choose from,” says David Reeves, a co-chair of GALS and a singer in the choir for eleven years.

“It's not all gloom though,” he adds, “we end the concert with a few numbers offering hope and recovery from life's trials too.

GALS is known for the sometimes quirky and sometimes very camp themes for its shows. “We had several songs left over and not used from previous concerts which all seemed to loosely refer to disasters so we started to see what else we could find to build on the theme. Selecting the themes is quite organic with lots of choir members suggesting music and then a smaller group pulling to together into something coherent. We had a working title of "GALS presents a complete disaster" but decided it was a bit of a risk from a marketing angle and it wasn't really what we wanted to convey for the first concert under our new conductor.”

Reeves expects highlights to include “a stunning new piece composed by Aucklander Kate Bell after the Canterbury earthquakes, and a modern spiritual written following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans - both of which have beautiful harmonies and a powerful message. And there are big gutsy favourites like Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and Coldplay's Fix You, - they're choir favourites from previous concerts. And we open with Bastille's Pompeii.”

A small women's singing group called The Project will be contributing a few pieces part way though the concert, Reeves believes they'll give the audience a change of sound and look. “Variety,” he says, “is always good.”

It's no secret that some of the venues GALS have performed in over the years have been less than friendly to choral singing so this time they're trying out a new auditorium, at the Michael Park School in Ellerslie.

“The auditorium was built specifically for music performance," says Reeves. "It's got a better atmosphere and acoustics - and comfortable raked seating! We wanted to try somewhere new that might do justice to the great sound we are producing together. And our audience actually come from all over Auckland so Ellerslie is still quite central.

Reeves feels the combination of the choir and its new conductor, Nick Forbes, seems to be working out “really well so far. Nick has only been with us full-time for a few months but it's going really well. Every conductor has a different style and focus - and I think he is discovering that every choir has it's own characteristics too. It's like a new relationship - we're learning about each other.

Reeves says Forbes is very energetic. “We sometimes wonder if he has an "off" switch! But he's also got deep musical talent having sung with the NZ Youth Choir and many other groups so he brings the experience of having worked with the country's best conductors. He's got a naughty sense of humour too.

Has Forbes' arrival signaled any change in GALS repertoire or approach?

We're probably still in transition. Working with Parson James last month was a new experience for us which was amazing. I think we'll work together with Nick to explore new modes of performing over the next little while. It's our 25th anniversary next year and we want to try a few different things.”

GALS: The Full Catastrophe

Saturday August 13 at 3.30pm

Michael Park School Auditorium, 55 Amy St. Ellerslie.

Jay Bennie - 12th August 2016

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