Mahler rehearsals with the Maestro

Seating 300 singers is a major logistical exercise

Organising a cast of thousands (well 300 really) who come from all parts of the country requires a high level of preparation, time, patience and a dose of humour!

The Wellington cast – comprising children from  Cathedral choir and St Marks School, and an augmented Orpheus Choir – have been in rehearsal since last September. It has been quite a build up. We had Christmas in between; it hasn’t been a continuous rehearsal period but as always, it gets busier as the performance date closes in.

It is all so worth it though, especially in the opening bars of the Chorus Mysticus which concludes the piece. The sounds now appears to come from nowhere … The soloists are thrilling, particularly New Zealanders Martin Snell and Simon O’Neill. What a huge wealth of talent there is on show!

Singing under the baton of Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy is an incredible experience. His stature is huge in the world of music – not physically though! Ashkenazy is a man in his seventies, with a shock of white hair and an olive complexion. He speaks softly with a thick Russian accent and when giving direction that he doesn’t have words for, he communicates with every part of his face and his body – we understand.

I love being part of this event – passionately so and wouldn’t have it any other way – but one part of me would so like to sit in the audience to experience the glorious sound.


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