Waiapu Anglican Cathedral, Napier

01/10/2017 - 01/10/2017

Auckland Museum, Auckland

02/10/2017 - 02/10/2017


Production Details

The Unusual Silence is a concert in remembrance of WWI bringing together some of New Zealand’s finest singers, Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir. 

This specially curated programme features songs of loss, tragedy but also hope and the strength of the human spirit. Other works in this contemplative, rich and moving programme include Chatman’s In Flanders Fields, Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem Domine, and music by David Hamilton and Eric Whitacre. 

Renowned New Zealand composer and former Iona College student Victoria Kelly wrote The Unusual Silence, with inspiration drawn from the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s collection of artifacts and letters from New Zealand soldiers.

Premiering at the Auckland Museum’s Sanctuary, The Unusual Silence will also be performed in Toronto, Canada at the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in 2018.

The concert is co-directed by Voices Artistic Director Karen Grylls and New Zealand Opera Director Stuart Maunder, and will feature Hawke’s Bay trumpeter Robbie Cargill and a local school choir.

Waiapu Anglican Cathedral, Napier
Sun Oct 1st: 2pm  
Premier: $59
Adult: $49
Concession: $42

Theatre , Musical ,

A powerful and reverberant experience

Review by William Dart 04th Oct 2017

Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir’s WWI commemoration was a powerful and reverberant experience in the marble halls of Auckland Museum.

Acoustics weren’t kind to the immaculate tonal balance conductor Karen Grylls always draws from this choir but they added dramatic punch to two works looking beyond the 1914-18 conflict. [More


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A rewarding afternoon

Review by Sonia Mackenzie 02nd Oct 2017

Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir certainly excel themselves in harmony and presentation. Under the direction of Dr Karen Grylls the twenty-four singers give us wonderful sounds in the grand acoustics of the Waiapu Anglican Cathedral. 

The programme of music to celebrate the centenary of the Battles of World War I is very wide. The beginning, with Ivor Novello’s well known ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ as the singers enter from the back of the Cathedral, is most effective. Their dress and movements to the central area are smooth and very appropriate.

Eric Whitacre’s music, set to a Mexican poem, is very different. Siegfried Sassoon’s poem, read to David Hamilton’s score with the inclusion of the trumpet calls, sends shivers down the spine.

Jenny McLeod has set the choir quite a task with difficult harmonies which they handle admirably. I personally really enjoy ‘When this Lousy War is Over’: a complete contrast to the rest of the show. Smooth harmonies in ‘Softly Rest’ and some wonderfully well pronounced Latin follow.

We all know the John MacRae poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ and hearing it performed in whispers to music does not diminish its quality or impact. The main choir dedicates the final song as a memoriam to Peter Godfrey, ‘father of New Zealand choral music’, who died on the 28th of September.

Director Stuart Maunder and Vocal Consultant Catrin Johnsson are to be congratulated on the success of the day. Mention must be made of the group of local singers who fill in at interval: they are much enjoyed and it would have been nice to hear them a little more. A rewarding afternoon.


Editor October 6th, 2017

Thank you Roger - and Pepe. This review was indeed not up to standard and for that we can only apologise. Hopefully the link to William Dart's review will have more value for readers.   

roger hall October 6th, 2017

Sonia's  review was a disgrace. This was one of the best concerts I've been to anywhere in the world. Victoria Kelly's The Unusual Silence was a superb work, possibly a landmark choral piece for this country. It does make you wonder if the reviewer actually attended. May I alert readers that if they get the chance to go to this conert, on no account miss it.

Roger Hall

Editor October 4th, 2017

Link to Herald review of the Auckland performance here: 

Pepe Becker October 3rd, 2017

Hi Sonia, Thanks for your review. It was nice to be back in Napier's cathedral again, and yes, great to have the involvement of local choir, Cantare, singing their own item within our Voices NZ programme (there was no interval actually), as well as with us at the end... I'm just wondering why you haven't made any mention of the centrepiece of the programme, the commissioned work, "The Unusual Silence" (by Victoria Kelly), which gives the concert its title? Also you didn't mention the other longer/larger-scale work on the programme, Mantyjarvi's "Canticum Calamitatis...", or Samuel Barber's "To Be Sung on the Water", or the fact that both choirs sang together at the end. I guess it's not a big deal to omit comment on the performance of the latter pieces, but to say nothing about the premiere of the newly-commissioned NZ work could be seen as a bit remiss... Was there a reason for that? - Cheers, Pepe (Voices NZ soprano)

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