Last Saturday, December 7th I joined forces with several of my friends to present a concert with a difference. It was a very special event designed to mark the 150th anniversary of the house Alberton (built 1863) in a meaningful way. It was a truly wonderful and memorable occasion for all those involved.
A wide range of 19th century music was played, with spoken introductions provided by concert master of ceremonies, David Nutt, who addressed the audience as if the year was 1863. The performers wore period costumes and there were several costume changes in the course of the evening.
The first half of the concert consisted of solos performed on three different guitars. First up was an original 1823 "Fecit" Panormo guitar on which I played several etudes by Fernando Sor. Then came my own composition Seringapatam played on a Louis Panormo inspired guitar, one of two made in October this year by Rod Capper and specially for the concert. During this, much to the surprise and delight of the audience, I wore an Indian kurta and Gandhi hat. I finished the first half playing works by Chopin, Tarrega and Arcas on another guitar built this year - an Antonio Torres copy by Rod Capper. The guitar features decorative inlay made from kauri that was once part of the 150 year old roof of Alberton.
Following the interval, dressed in a dinner suit, I was joined by my friends Rex Button and Imogen Abernethy in performances of a selection of Victorian songs. The song accompaniments were played on the two Panormo inspired guitars. Imogen's gentle and true voice was a perfect match for the mellow tones of the guitars and the performance captured the essence of a 19th century, family soiree. This part of the programme was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience who enthusiastically showed their appreciation after each song.
The songs were followed by several guitar duet performances including a stirring performance of Oh Lovely May by Johanne Strauss, arranged specially for the concert by Bruce, with ideas and suggestions provided by Rex. This was done as a special tribute to the first New Zealand Riding Ball held at Alberton in 1877.
After closing words from the concert MC, wishing good things for Alberton in the next 150 years, the concert was rounded off with a touching performance of the famous Irish folk song Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms. The audience were then invited to share in a selection of delectable canapés and other treats.