March 10, 2018

Wellington, New Zealand

I don’t have long, I’m afraid. I’ve been top preoccupied with the quality of sunlight here in Wellington today to have remembered to do my blog until now, and there are just 51 minutes before our concert starts here in Wellington. Somehow - even though I’m (apparently, according to Google) 11,683 miles away from London - it feels like I’m not too far from home. Not just because of our many connections to people and places we love here in New Zealand, but perhaps also because over half of the resident population here in Wellington seems to be visiting from England anyway, working here for a year or two to learn what real sun is like before returning back to Europe for the rest of their lives. I can’t blame them.

I’m also in a bit of a hurry because I have to add some finishing touches to an announcement I have to give in the first half of this evening’s concert. I want it to be particularly good because (a) the concert is being recorded by Radio New Zealand (for broadcast in April), (b) we’re sharing the stage with The Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, who are really very good (perhaps even intimidatingly so…), and (c) the announcement is for a piece written especially for this collaboration in New Zealand. It’s called This Watershed Time, and it’s by the New Zealand composer Leonie Holmes, in honour of both our 50th anniversary, and also the 20th anniversary of The Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir. Leonie is in the audience, as it Anne, who wrote the beautiful poetry, so I don’t want to mess anything up. Regarding the content of the piece and its poetry, here’s an excerpt of what I’ve written so far (incorporating some of what Leonie’s written about the piece herself):

“This Watershed Time sets texts by the New Zealand poet, Anne Powell, using images of water and the sea to reflect a sense of suspension and timelessness, along with a palpable connection to the land and seascapes of Aotearoa New Zealand. Her writing powerfully depicts the expensiveness and the might of the generous water that surrounds New Zealand, and how, to quote Anne, “the drift of the tide…feeds the thirsting sand.” In essence, the whole piece is a paean to the power of this majestic landscape to restore us as human beings. This in Anne’s closing prayer:

May the soft light at the end of the day heal you

May the purr of the sea on the shells of the beach heal you

May the dance of the wind on the grass of the dunes heal you

May the Maker of water and air and fire heal you who walk the earth”

The line, “May the purr of the sea on the shells of the beach heal you” resonates particularly with me. Many of you will know that most of favourite places and cities on earth are situated on water. Perhaps it has to do with growing up on an Island like Great Britain, but I feel so peaceful whenever I’m near an ocean or sea, and I absolutely agree that it can have a real power to heal.

Perhaps that’s another reason I feel so close to home here. Although I’m just shy of 12,000 miles away from my front door in England, Wellington is located right on the southernmost tip of New Zealand’s South Island, and tonight’s concert hall - the magnificent Michael Fowler Centre - is surrounded by water. It’s not long before I start my journey home. We fly to Auckland for our last concert of this tour, and I’m then in Sydney for two days before embarking on the journey back to London via Singapore. I’ll be flying over water for much of the journey home. And the thought of that - much like being surrounded by water here in Wellington - makes me feel very content.