Celebrating a Century
April 25th saw the successful staging of the 100 year tribute Concert for Maxwell Fernie at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Wellington, culminating in the presentation of the inaugural Maxwell Fernie Trust Scholarship to a very-deserving Thomas Gaynor.
The capacity audience was treated to a wide range of musical tributes, compèred by James Young and introduced by Andrew Fernie. The programme included St Mary’s Choir, soprano Rowena Simpson and musicians from the NZSO interspersed with archive footage of Maxwell and a contemporary interview with one of his first organ students, Nicolas Kynaston (now an internationally renowned organist in his own right).
The distinctive Fernie Organ at St Mary’s sounded well in the curtain raiser from City Organist Douglas Mews with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G and the finale – Widor’s toccata (with a pause before the final cadence to sing ‘Happy Birthday’) played by St Mary’s organist Donald Nicolson.
A special feature was Helen Bowater’s composition for the centenary, “The Non-singing Seats”, a poem by Wellington Artist and poet Gregory O’Brien set in dialogue with violin and viola – superbly played by Yury Gezentsvey and Peter Barber – capturing the impact that Maxwell Fernie had on the listener. The poem first found life in two etchings commissioned by the Maxwell Fernie Trust and is the brain-child of Peter McLeavey.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Hon. Chris Finlayson, of the first scholarship to Thomas Gaynor, a talented under-graduate music student at Victoria University. Some poignant video clips of Max in full flight as a teacher were then aptly followed by a stunning performance by Thomas of the Finale from Vierne’s first Organ Symphony receiving a rapturous and sustained applause.
The evening ended with a birthday party for Maxwell attended by a multitude of friends and associates from around the country. The highlight being the cutting of the birthday cake, enjoyed with great gusto in his absence. Special and heartfelt thanks go to Vonnie Nunns, Bernadette Coup and Kay Poynton for ensuring this party was a great success.
Indeed, grateful thanks is owed to everyone involved and in attendance who made this such a memorable and fitting night for the launch of a wonderful Scholarship.
A 100 year tribute CD has been released and is available upon request (firstname.lastname@example.org) at $25