by Sourced from The Big Sing

The sound of singing success - Chamber Choir perform at Big Sing

On Sunday 25th and Monday 26th August, the St Paul's First Fifteen Chamber Choir had the incredible opportunity to attend and compete in the inaugural Big Sing Cadenza competition.

This was the second tier down from the Big Sing Finale and included choirs from across the country, (i.e. the next top 36 choirs - 14 from the upper North Island). These 14 choirs had qualified for Cadenza following the Big Sing regional competition held back in May (where St Paul’s entered its three choirs).

The Chamber Choir was required to sing four pieces of contrasting music and give two recitals over the two days, in addition to participating in workshops with the other choirs from Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton.

With the slightly upsetting results from the Big Sing regional still lingering, the Chamber Choir was determined to prove their place in the Cadenza competition and so worked hard, rehearsing daily and putting in long hours. The competition day began bright and early with minivans taking the 25 choristers to Rotorua, departing at 6.00am! Being one of the first choirs to perform, we wasted no time in organising a quick last-minute rehearsal to warm up our voices and get in the zone.

The two days were split into two sessions of performances. Each session featured six choirs performing two pieces from their repertoire. The standard of singing was unbelievable and we all gained a huge amount from observing the quality and the discipline from each choir, all of them bringing a unique flair and approach to their performance. Whilst most of the music was unfamiliar to us, it was nice to hear some songs that we knew and had ourselves, sung either this year or in the past.

The adjudicator of the competition gave three workshop sessions throughout the two days for all 400 choir members to attend. We were given four songs to learn in 24 hours to a performance standard as they would be featured at the gala concert on Monday night. The experience of singing with so many high-quality musicians was truly breath-taking and we loved having the chance to mix and mingle with the other choirs.

On the second day, our nerves were slightly more settled for our second recital. There were more workshops and then preparation for the gala and prize giving in the evening. With all choirs having performed their entire repertoire, it was all up to the adjudicator to analyse the performances and finalise the results. Each choir was either given the award of Merit, Distinction or Excellence for their four pieces. Before the announcement of prizes, each choir performed one piece, chosen by the judge as their most captivating. The St Paul’s Chamber Choir was asked to sing Other Plan’s by Lisa Young which proved an extremely popular choice with the hundreds of singers there. After a few speeches and thanks were given to the supervising staff and sponsors of the competition, the trophies were ready to be awarded to the choirs. 

As our results were read out, we held our breath. As the word ‘Distinction’ was spoken, the room erupted in applause. Having been the underdogs of the entire competition, we were overcome with pride, happiness and huge relief as we had finally proven our place amongst the top choirs in New Zealand.

A big thank you must go out to all of the teachers who came along on our trip. Our music teachers, Hannah Bryant and Mr Campbell, our choir mum Mrs Johnson, our amazing accompanist Mr Greenslade and the legendary, Mr Timothy Carpenter (Choral Director) who has shown unmatched commitment and dedication to the choir.