Coralie at the keys

Coralie Hunter. Picture supplied

Recordings of Victorian-era composers Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas billow with a full orchestra accompaniment. For the Gisborne Choral Society (GCS) production of the duo’s work The Yeomen of the Guard, Gisborne pianist Coralie Hunter is that orchestra. With a set of 88 black and white keys at her fingertips Hunter accompanies rich choruses, solos, tricky duos and trios.

“Yeomen has lovely melodies,” says the pianist.

“There is an orchestral reduction for piano but the big choruses require big chords. There are a lot of big octaves for one hand which is a big stretch and there’s a lot of vamping with the left hand.

“A lot of it is fine to play but it’s got a few tricky bits.”

Hunter enjoys accompanying the solo pieces but surely solo newbies present challenges with timing?

“You try to keep and eye on what the singer is doing,” says Hunter.

“Once I know what is happening and what singers are doing it’s easier. I try to stick with them.”

GCS’s previous production of Bach’s monumental Passion of St John entailed many key changes, as does The Yeomen of the Guard — “but Gilbert and Sullivan’s key changes are fairly predictable”, she says. Years of training, teaching and performance means Hunter can modify the orchestral reduction to maintain a seamless, one-woman orchestration on 88 keys.

“It’s almost my own arrangement. That takes a lot of practice but I’ve played a lot of accompaniment.”

  • Accompanied by pianist Coralie Hunter, the Gisborne Choral Society performs Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Yeomen of the Guard in Tairawhiti Museum’s White Gallery on Sunday at 2pm. Entry free/koha.

Recordings of Victorian-era composers Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas billow with a full orchestra accompaniment. For the Gisborne Choral Society (GCS) production of the duo’s work The Yeomen of the Guard, Gisborne pianist Coralie Hunter is that orchestra. With a set of 88 black and white keys at her fingertips Hunter accompanies rich choruses, solos, tricky duos and trios.

“Yeomen has lovely melodies,” says the pianist.

“There is an orchestral reduction for piano but the big choruses require big chords. There are a lot of big octaves for one hand which is a big stretch and there’s a lot of vamping with the left hand.

“A lot of it is fine to play but it’s got a few tricky bits.”

Hunter enjoys accompanying the solo pieces but surely solo newbies present challenges with timing?

“You try to keep and eye on what the singer is doing,” says Hunter.

“Once I know what is happening and what singers are doing it’s easier. I try to stick with them.”

GCS’s previous production of Bach’s monumental Passion of St John entailed many key changes, as does The Yeomen of the Guard — “but Gilbert and Sullivan’s key changes are fairly predictable”, she says. Years of training, teaching and performance means Hunter can modify the orchestral reduction to maintain a seamless, one-woman orchestration on 88 keys.

“It’s almost my own arrangement. That takes a lot of practice but I’ve played a lot of accompaniment.”

  • Accompanied by pianist Coralie Hunter, the Gisborne Choral Society performs Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Yeomen of the Guard in Tairawhiti Museum’s White Gallery on Sunday at 2pm. Entry free/koha.
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