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Striking a chord in Featherston

Those attending New Zealand Youth Choir’s performance in Featherston’s Anzac Hall are in for a special treat from some of the best voices in the country.

Tomorrow’s performance is the choir’s first in 2023 and will include some of the numbers they will be singing in Pukeahu National War Memorial Park for Anzac Day on Tuesday.

Featherston-based choir manager Louise Jakeway said it will be a great opportunity for any younger, budding singers in Wairarapa to see first-hand the quality they can aspire to.

“It’s a national representative choir … it shows a world-class standard of what New Zealand singers can do.

“It’s a phenomenal experience to watch and be a part of.”

Jakeway said the range of music sung by the choir is extensive and, for those interested, there will also be a pre-concert talk starting at 2.15pm with director David Squire and choir members.

“I think anyone who comes along, who might be on the fence about joining a
choir, will just be blown away,” she said.

“They’re working at some waiata pieces, and they sing in many different languages and styles – from your more classical pieces to contemporary and jazz.”

The choir is made up of 50 young Kiwis, who go through an initial audition process and – once accepted – stay in the choir for three years, taking part in both national and international tours.

Andrea Thomson, choir director for Rathkeale College’s Trinity Voices and Wairarapa College’s Cantate, said the concert is a fantastic opportunity for young aspiring singers.

“It shows them what’s out there. I find any time my students have seen the New Zealand Youth Choir perform they’re absolutely blown away,” she said.

“After they saw them perform last year, I had students coming to me saying, ‘Oh my gosh, that was amazing, I want to audition,’ and it really does just inspire them.”

Classical voice student Alex Buchanan used to be one of those students when she was involved in her high school choir Viva Camerata [now Trinity Voices] and New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir while attending St Matthew’s Collegiate School.

Now in New Zealand Youth Choir, she is singing on home soil tomorrow and said her exposure to these opportunities while she was in school was pivotal to her pathway in music.

“It really propelled me into wanting to keep doing choir, and being around people that were like-minded for as long as possible.”

Buchanan said she is in the choir for the music, but the social scene and community involvement is the factor that really hits a high note.

“It’s a fantastic experience meeting people who are similar to you,” she said.

“Someone will start singing a tune, and everyone will join in – that’s something normal in a space within choirs that isn’t in most other musical contexts.”

Tickets for the concert are available online through the New Zealand Youth Choir’s website.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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