When an audience with a mean age of seventy energetically jump out of their seats in enthusiastic applause at the end of a work, you know it’s been a good performance. Associate Professor of Music, Anthony Ritchie’s composition Gallipoli to the Somme traces the journey of Dunedinite Alexander Aitken through his experiences in World War I. Ritchie weaves together texts from a variety of sources including letters, chants, poems and speeches linked to New Zealanders, Britons, Germans and Turks, making a striking humanist statement about ordinary peoples’ experience of war. Aitken, an accomplished violinist, took his violin with him to war, and Ritchie highlights the significance of the violin through his use of recurring solos, performed beautifully by the DSO Concertmaster and Senior Lecturer, Tessa Petersen. The performance also featured the talents of Anna Leese, Martin Snell, The Dunedin City Choir, and The Southern Youth Choir, under the baton of Simon Over. The second half of the programme was made up of works by Ravel, Kelly and Wagner, giving the audience an insight of the type of music that was being written or performed around the time of World War I. The programme as a whole was incredibly moving, and highlighted the immense talents of Ritchie, Petersen, and other music lecturers and students, which Otago is very lucky to have.
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