Rathkeale and St Matthew’s tuning up. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

More than 380 Wairarapa pupils, turn choristers this week to participate in The Big Sing 2019. Included in that group for the first time are the Solway College Choir.

Four choirs will be competing in the Wellington Regionals today and tomorrow, and another five choirs at the Manawatu-Whanganui Regionals in Palmerston North on Thursday.

Wairarapa College will be taking three choirs to the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington – Armonia Dolce, Pogonologists and Cantate – and will be joined by Rathkeale and St Matthew’s combined choir, Viva Camerata.

Viva Camerata were selected for the 24-choir national finale last year, becoming the first Wairarapa choir to go to the finals since Cantate from Wairarapa College 15 years ago.

More than 1500 pupils in 38 choirs will be at the Wellington Regionals. Each choir will present three pieces in a 10-minute bracket during daytime sessions, including an art song and one with New Zealand or Pasifika origins. From those sets, they will select one item to perform as part of the evening’s Gala concert.

The Palmerston North competition will have three of St Matthew’s choirs perform – Junior Choir, Jabulani and Year 11 Fun Choir.

Solway College’s choir will attend their first-ever The Big Sing competition. PHOTO/PAM ROBINSON

Rathkeale Boys’ Choir, and debutant Solway College Choir will also travel to the Regent Theatre in Palmerston North.

A new edition to the competition this year will be a second-tier competition for those ranked immediately below those at the national finale.

Three The Big Sing Cadenza festivals will be held, in Timaru, Whanganui and Rotorua. This will allow 36 competing choirs to experience the buzz of a finale style event, with the added dimension of workshops.

Viva Camerata conductor Kiewiet van Deventer said, “There are many up-and-coming choirs who will get to enjoy the second tier. I think it is fantastic”.

Solway College music teacher Pam Robinson is credited with getting the school’s choir to The Big Sing for the first time. The choir comprises pupils from Year 7-13 and is larger than it has been before. It will have a pupil conductor and accompanist.

“It is quite a nice experience for them”, Robinson said. “I want to expose them to different experiences.

“They are nervous and excited, because some of them don’t know what Big Sing is.”

Robinson said she hoped to take the choir to more competitions after The Big Sing.

Waicol’s Cantate will be the first Wairarapa choir on stage today, and conductor Andrea Thomson said they have many choristers new to the competition.

“Our aim is to do our best and enjoy ourselves. They are more excited than scared … until we get there,” she said.

Van Deventer is not putting any pressure on Viva Camerata after the high of last year’s finale.

The goal, she said, was to “make beautiful music and enjoy what they are doing”.

“We’ve done all the teaching that we can and now it’s up to them – they’ve got real potential.”

Pupil Macy Ngatuere said, “It is getting hard now because it’s all the little wee perfection things that you need to be working on.”

A “flicker of a smile from Mrs van Deventer” lets them know they are on the right track.

The Big Sing has been running for more than 30 years.