New gospel blues for Heaven Bent

The premiere of two new works by Auckland composer Stephen Matthews will be the highlight of a special end-of-year performance by the Heaven Bent Gospel Choir at All Saints Church, Ponsonby, Auckland, on Saturday November 29th 2008.

The popular Auckland-based choir is looking forward to performing the works - Shine and Freedom is Calling - which were specially written for them by the composer.

Stephen Matthews has composed works for orchestras and choirs as well as songs and instrumental chamber music. His work has been performed by leading groups such as the New Zealand Trio, the New Zealand Chamber Soloists, the NZSO and the Auckland Philharmonia. He has really enjoyed working with the Heaven Bent Gospel Choir.

"What attracts me is the emotional directness and musical spontaneity of the gospel musical style, " he says.

"Although I've not worked with the choir before, they've really impressed me by their commitment and genuine love of music and performing."

In a departure from its usual a cappella style, the choir will perform these two new gospel blues songs accompanied by the composer on piano and a trio comprising some of Auckland's top musicians: Neil Watson, guitar; Oliver Holland, acoustic bass, and Josh Sorenson, drums. Vocal soloists include tenors Simon Williams and Phil May and soprano Tania Wilson.

This special end-of-year concert will also include Heaven Bent's first performance of Come Sunday, Tony Backhouse's arrangement of a Duke Ellington classic, a set from the band, plus a lively selection of gospel/African/waiata standards.

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