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June 17, 2004

New Zealand Herald

It was a mammoth sing - 19 secondary school choirs competing in the Auckland finals of the annual Big Sing, a key event organised by the New Zealand Choral Foundation. Philip Sherry was a smooth and avuncular MC, troop movements on and off stage went without a hitch, and the young voices delivered loud and strong. Judge John Pattinson may have commented on the paucity of classic repertoire (a Bach cantata movement from Carmel College was the only substantial nod in this direction) but the programme was not lacking in cultural diversity.

A number of choirs went Celtic (particularly St Cuthberts with exquisite two-part singing in My Heart's in the Highlands), Baradene College brought out the heart of the Jewish Sophia (with violin and tambourine on the side), and Epsom Girls Grammar pinned just the right Slavic tone to their Bulgarian offering. The Pacific wasn't forgotten when five ranks of full-voiced choristers from Tangaroa College sang a Samoan hymn, or when Otahuhu College presented a sprightly gospel-styled number written by its pianist, senior student Kiri-Miree Kainamu-Wheeler.

There were also moments of weirdness. Beautiful singing did not prevent Manurewa High School's version of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered from being a strange choice of song, even with censored lyrics. And the sight of the formally blazered Kings College choristers letting rip on Reach out and I'll Be There was simply bizarre.

These few hours in the town hall had brought many together to celebrate the joy and communication that is possible through the human voice. You could see all of this in the faces of the youngsters and feel the community spirit the audience brought along. Above all, you could sense it in the dedication and lively personalities of the music teachers involved. These men and women are keepers of a flame that too often is just burning when it should be blazing.

Posted by acapnews at June 17, 2004 9:18 PM


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