Members of the New Zealand Youth Choir are reflecting on their “once in a lifetime” opportunity to perform at Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2016.
The NZ Youth Choir toured European in 2016 which involved visits to the Czech Republic, the UK and to France, where the group performed a mass at Notre-Dame.
Listen to NZYC rehearsing Ave verum corpus in Notre-Dame Cathedral
The choir performed several New Zealand compositions and sang with the cathedral singers.
Twenty-six-year-old Wellington based alto Hannah Bennett says she was shocked to wake up to the news that Notre-Dame was ablaze this morning. “I couldn’t believe it. It brought back memories of this incredible experience we had. And sadness,” she says. “When we were there we had a feeling it was a once in a lifetime thing we got to do. It’s been confirmed today.”
“It was definitely a musical highlight of my life.”
Auckland based alto, 24-year old Amy Chang nearly missed out on the opportunity to perform at Notre-Dame. She was named as a reserve in the Choir before the tour but was able to go when a few other singers were unable to go.
On the day of the performance at Notre-Dame she had heatstroke but was determined to perform. “The manager said I could sit this one out… but no! I’ll never be able to sing here ever again!” she says. “I was so heart-broken when I read the news [about the fire].”
She says there were several “magical” moments during their performance, including the organist improvising off the choir’s last note, and receiving an interesting reaction from the congregation. “We got a standing ovation from the congregation. We weren’t expecting that!” she says. “It was a Catholic Mass. We weren’t [even] expecting applause. It was very special.”
Compositions performed by the choir included David Hamilton’s Ave verum corpus which was commissioned by the choir for the European tour and in particular as part of the mass at Notre-Dame Cathedral.
The performance came a few days after the choir won the Grand Prix at the IFAS 2016 in the Czech Republic.