A Christmas concert with a difference

If you’re hanging out for a Christmas fundraising concert to take your family to this festive season but you’re wanting something a bit different, mark your diaries for December 8.  That is the evening that St Joseph’s School in Takapuna will host an event like no other to get us in the Christmas spirit, complete with a world-renowned Kiwi opera singer performing with students.

Simon O’Neill, considered to be one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage, will perform at the event alongside the Auckland Symphony Orchestra led by Peter Thomas and students from St Joseph’s. A father with children at St Joseph’s, Simon spends a great deal of time performing internationally, and the chance to see him in this environment is very rare.

“This amazing opportunity for our students to perform with Simon and the ASO is very exciting,” PTFA member Bridget Allen says.  “We’re looking to create a fantastic Christmas concert for the local community and in addition to the amazing performances on offer, we’ll have gourmet food trucks, along with wine and beer supplied by some of New Zealand's favourite breweries and vineyards available.”

Taking place at the Westlake Boys auditorium in Forrest Hill, the concert will raise funds for the enhancement of music within St Joseph’s.  The children will be practising hard all term to get ready for the concert, and will also have the opportunity to participate in a singing workshop with Simon in November when he returns from performing at concerts in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles.

Simon has frequently performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Berlin, Vienna and Bayerische Staatopern – amongst others - and the Edinburgh and BBC Proms Festivals. His performance as Siegmund in Die Walkure at the Royal Opera House and other venues was described by international press as exemplary and terrific, “a turbo-charged tenor.”

This season, he makes his debut at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony and returns to the Berlin Staatoper as Florestan in Fidelio, Boris in Katya Kavanova and Froh in Das Rheingold. Simon will also sing in San Francisco, Hong Kong, Atlanta and Queensland in the coming season, and is delighted to be making his role debut as the title role in Tristan und Isolde with the Santa Fe Opera. He will also make his stage debut as Siegfried in 2021 in a new production for Deutsche Opera Berlin.

Fellow parent of the school Peter Thomas will lead the Auckland Symphony Orchestra at the event as its music director.  He is head of music at Epsom Girls’ Grammar, and has conducted the Auckland Philharmonia, Auckland Youth Orchestra, St Matthews Chamber Orchestra, Devonport Chamber Orchestra and West Michigan University Orchestra.

Peter has also worked for NZQA, has appeared on radio and television, and is involved with the Remuera Music School.

The Auckland Symphony Orchestra is a New Zealand community-based symphony orchestra formed in 1975.   It has developed a following and reputation in its performances of popular classics, and its 80-plus players are drawn from across Auckland and from all walks of life.

Tickets for the December 8 event are available at http://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2019/oct/stjosephs

Issue 104 November 2019