The Rathkeale St Matthew’s Senior College choir at the Big Sing regional competition in Wellington. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Jake Beleski

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Months of practise were rewarded last week as the Rathkeale St Matthew’s Senior College choir won their first ever trophy at the regional Big Sing competition in Wellington.

The choir won the Victoria University Cup for best performance of a New Zealand composition for their performance of Fletcher’s Mill, Morning Blues by New Zealand composer John Wells.

Eighteen choirs competed in the event held at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre, and choir conductor Kiewiet van Deventer said they were thrilled to win a trophy.

“I was really blown away because probably 60 per cent of my students are new this year, and we thought we were in a rebuilding phase.

“There’s three categories and there is a cup for each category, and then there are certificates . . . in the past we’ve been given certificates but this is the first time we’ve won a cup.”

Each choir had to sing a 10 minute programme, consisting of three contrasting pieces.

The other two pieces performed by the group were ‘Sure is the Shining Night’ by Jamey Ray, and ‘Bawo Thixo Somandla’ — a Xhosa traditional transcribed by Mrs van Deventer.

The choir had help from vocal coach Andrea Thomson, and were accompanied by Ruth Eckford.

They also had tutelage from David Squire — conductor of the New Zealand youth choir — in the lead-up to the event.

The third piece in particular had been challenging, Mrs van Deventer said.

“The last piece was challenging as it contains sounds that we do not have in English.

“In this we were assisted by Dr Tim Matthews who is a fluent Xhosa speaker.”

It was pleasing that the “huge commitment” from the students had been rewarded, she said.

“From the moment we were called to warm up, the group really blew me away with how focused they were on the job at hand.

“I was really pleased for them.”

Later this month 24 choirs will be selected to attend the national finale in Auckland, to be held in August.