As some of the biggest names in New Zealand music join the star-studded line-ups for Christchurch benefit concerts, the country‘s classical singers and musicians are also uniting.

But rather than raising funds, the Aorangi Symphony Orchestra‘s main goal is to provide spiritual consolation and comfort at a time when New Zealanders are grieving.

Soloists Anna Leese (soprano), Kristin Darragh (mezzo-soprano), Amitai Pati (tenor) and Wade Kernot (bass), the Aorangi Singers and accompanying orchestra perform in Auckland on Sunday evening in a concert dedicated to the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks.

Giuseppe Verdi‘s famous Requiem is the central work in the performance that the Aorangi Symphony Orchestra originally planned as the fourth in a series of World War I commemoration concerts dedicated to world peace.

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It was to mark the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I hostilities, but Aorangi‘s musical director Sarah Bisley Schneider says following the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques on Friday, March 15, it was decided to add a further public dedication.

“Like other New Zealanders, we seek tolerance, understanding and compassion,” says Bisley Schneider.

In 2017, Bisley Schneider became the first person in the Southern Hemisphere, and only the third maestro, to receive the Pro Cultura Hungarica prize from the Hungarian Government. Presented annually since 1985, the prize recognises foreign nationals who promote Hungarian culture and enrich cultural relations between Hungary and other countries.

While Bisley Schneider received the award for her production of the choral work Psalmus Hungaricus composed by Zoltan Kodaly, in the early 1980s she also smuggled musical compositions between communist controlled Romania and Hungary.

The In Search of Peace concert is in Auckland Town Hall‘s Great Hall at 6pm on Sunday with door sales and tickets from Ticketmaster.