“Dunedin Sound is part of Dunedin’s identity – our distinctive story, our talent, innovation and creativity,” writes Dunedin’s mayor Dave Cull, “It was a sound so many of us in the south grew up with. At a time when New Zealand was establishing its own identity, musically and culturally, Dunedin led the way.”

Anna Leese

Anna Leese Photo: Wikimedia

‘Tally Ho!’, a concert put on by the Southern Sinfonia, celebrates that story and creativity. Graeme Downes, the leader and songwriter of the band The Verlaines, has orchestrated 23 songs by bands such as The Clean, The Bats, The Chills, Look Blue Go Purple, Straitjacket Fits and others. And the Southern Sinfonia performed them at this concert with the help of four of the original vocalists: Downes himself, Martin Phillipps, David Kilgour and Shayne Carter. Also joining them was opera singer Anna Leese and three young singers from the next generation, Kylie Price, Molly Devine and Metitilani Alo – all students of music at the University of Otago.

Downes says that, by taking these songs into a whole new musical environment, the idea was to prove that they transcend their ‘garage band’ origins and their time of creation – the 1980s. It’s a chance to show that the songwriters had created micro-masterpieces that too few people acknowledge.

Tally Ho! was recorded in the Dunedin Town Hall in February 2015 by Andre Upston for Radio New Zealand