Island loses ‘a piece of its heart’
Islanders are still trying to take in the sudden death of Friends of the Street stalwart Hera Mohns last week and tributes have been flooding onto her Facebook page ever since.
Hera, who was 64, died at home on Waiheke after suffering a major heart attack and was cremated in a private ceremony for family and close friends in Auckland on Monday.
Known as a tireless worker for the island’s young people, being a founding member of youth safety group Friends of the Street and Youth Access to Alcohol (YATA), she is remembered by many for her compassionate and non-judgmental attitude.
“A lot of young people have a debt of gratitude to Hera,” says Green MP Denise Roche.
“She was passionate about keeping young people safe, she had a non-judgmental approach and she kept our community together. We have lost a piece of our heart.”
Hera worked closely with a number of social service organisations, was behind the popular Little Day In music fundraiser and a good friend to the Waiheke Police.
Sergeant Peter Knight says she had “broad shoulders” and was entirely dedicated to keeping young people out of trouble.
“Hera took people as she saw them, she was one of those silent soldiers in our community who just gets on and does the job without fanfare. She volunteered so much of her time for no financial reward and she had a great sense of humour. You could always have a joke about something with Hera.”
Hera has two adult children Flohey and Phoebe and four grandchildren. Ironically before her death, she was planning to slow down, qualify for her Gold Card and spend more time going to Auckland to be with them, says extended family member Linda Hodson, who has been supporting Hera’s children through the ordeal.
“Hera was looking forward to a change of pace. However she loved to dance and party – she was a bass player in a band for years – and the community response to organising a memorial service and tribute to her has been amazing. We are so appreciative of the support and love we have been shown and incredibly grateful as it needed to be done, but I’m not sure we would have been up to doing it all ourselves.”
Longtime former partner Perry Bisman says Hera was adored by all her friends across the social spectrum and could work equally well in the relaxed island environment or corporate offices in the city.
“She was a true chameleon in that sense and she wore many hats. She will be sorely missed.” • Julianne Evans
A memorial service and music concert will be held for Hera Mohns this Saturday 25 May at The Woolshed in O’Brien Road, Rocky Bay from 4pm. There will be a police escort taking Hera’s ashes from Surfdale to the venue, followed by a powhiri, haka, speeches and tributes. A shared supper will be followed by live music and dancing. All who knew and loved Hera are welcome. •
Soloists sparkle in thrilling Mozart concert
The Waiheke Island Choral Society had to postpone their Mozart concert twice, in part because of the difficulty in finding a weekend when all five soloists were available. But the wait was worth it when they finally performed two Mozart masses at St Peter’s Church on Mother’s Day weekend.
The concert began with Mozart’s Missa in C, nicknamed the Credo Mass due to its dominant ‘Credo’ movement.
Written when Mozart was just 20, the mass is full of youthful energy and a constant, playful interaction between the soloists and the full choir.
Aucklander Amelia Ryman was outstanding in the solo soprano parts, ably supported by Harriet Crampton’s strong alto voice, Iain Tetley’s exquisite tenor, and George Burrell’s sustaining bass. Richard Melville, the choral society’s music director and conductor, explained that part of the reason for the rapid-fire tempo was that Mozart’s employer, the archbishop of Salzburg, didn’t like long masses. The composer had to race through the liturgy in less than half an hour.
However, the Credo Mass was just a warm up; the real treat of the afternoon came after the break, with Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor. In the seven years since the Credo Mass was written, Mozart had gained in confidence and in the sweep of his passions. As Richard Melville said, he had studied the great Baroque composers, especially Bach and Handel, and the Great Mass shows their influence.
He had also become more experimental in his choral and orchestral configurations. For example, although the chorus was divided into the usual soprano, alto, tenor and bass sections, the soloists consisted of two sopranos, who had the bulk of the action, with supporting roles for the tenor and bass, and no alto at all.
Richard explained that Mozart was in love with two sisters, both of them sopranos, and probably wrote the solo parts for them. In the opening Kyrie movement, soprano soloist Milla Dickens sparkled with seemingly infinite vocal variability, handling the two-octave jumps with effortless precision.
Amelia Ryman returned for the solo Laudamus te, and the two sopranos then wowed the audience with what were in effect soprano duets (even though Iain Tetley and George Burrell were there to support them) interspersed with grand choral movements.
For the chorus, the high point came with the Qui tollis movement, in which the choir divided in two. The two choirs alternated, singing back and forth to each other, and then join in magnificent eight-part harmony before splitting again. The overall impression was one of absolute musical joy, composed by a man who has been described as a ‘music nerd’ because he so loved to tinker with these special effects.
The concert concluded with a delightful short Mozart piece, Ave Verum, which Richard described as “46 bars of perfection”.
For accompaniment the singers relied once again on the superb piano skills of the multi-talented Robert Wiremu, whose ten extremely busy fingers took the place of an entire orchestra.
If there was a weakness in this performance, it lay in the contrast between the five professional soloists and the Choral Society which is, after all, an amateur community choir. The occasional flat note or weak entrance was more noticeable when measured against the high standards of the professionals.
Yet as with most sports, mixing a few pros with the amateurs inspires the latter to improve their game, and this was very evident on the faces of the society members who had, after ten months of rehearsals, nailed one of the most difficult choral pieces ever written. • Sac Darwin