The first of the St Matthew’s Concert Series for 2017 was a resounding success. Jade Quartet (who performed on Sunday 19 February) is Auckland’s most accomplished String Quartet and their playing is marked by excellent ensemble and beauty of tone.
The programme was beautifully planned with accessible Beethoven, very entertaining David Hamilton, and good meaty Brahms all making for an ideal afternoon’s music – the fact that it was relatively short made it all the more enjoyable.
Their programme was ideal – the duration of 1.5 hours was just right and the audience size (70 + people) and it was very pleasing to see the concert attended by a diverse collection of music lovers. The atmosphere, introduction and administration were – as we’d expect of St Matthew’s team – very good.
Audience members greeting one other warmly, and members of our St Matthew’s congregation were sure to make friendly contact with visitors. There were audible comments about the quality of the printed programmes, the notes inside and the season tickets system.
Auckland composer David Hamilton is well known for his beautifully crafted choral music which is often sung by our St Matthew’s Voices and visiting choirs in the building. He is the composer of that grand hymn “Companions let us pray together” which we lustily sing from time to time. It was like meeting a dear friend to hear his Parlour Games for string quartet. Movements like Charades, Tango (ish), Hide and Seek both entertained and challenged the audience and (as was visible and audible) stimulated and enlivened the Jade Quartet players who had commissioned the work.
I moved from near the front (1st half) to the back (2nd half) and found the sound firstly very clear and crisp and then from the back still clear but with a warm bloom. In other words, a String Quartet sounds very good throughout the space. The acoustics of the nave interior are generally warmly regarded by musicians (but not without critics too!). Once in front of the chancel arch it is just a big, high, boxy room with warm clear resonance. St Matthew’s Voices when singing from the baptistery or gallery are a splendid example of how to musically exploit the acoustics in this glorious space.
So, a brilliant start – a pat on the back to Tom Chatterton (Director of Music 2016) for organising this series and to the staff and people of St Matthew’s for getting behind the programme and supporting some fine, relaxed Sunday afternoon music making.
The next concert – St Kentigern College Showcase on 7 May deserves our support. Please tell your friends and encourage them to attend.
Tim is a former organist of St Matthew’s and as a current member of the congregation he is enthusiastic about the liturgical and secular music performed in the space. He has recently become the Chair of the Music Events Group.