Festival of song for schools

The Big Sing brings together 15 different secondary school choirs, joining voices in a festival of broad-ranging choral styles.

Schools from across the Manawatu-Whanganui region will be represented at the Palmerston North event, involving about 600 students. Each choir will present a 10-minute programme which includes at least one New Zealand composition as part of its repertoire.

Palmerston North Girls' High is well represented with five choirs, all with a different musical focus.

Head of the music department at the school is Karen Carter, who oversees the school's Big Sing choirs.

"Interest in choirs is growing and we have seen this happening over the last few years," Carter said. "It is perhaps to do with the phenomenon of Lorde and Kimbra.

"United Sensation are a new gospel choir, formed by a group of mostly Pasifika students. It is student-driven; the girls just really wanted to get something started."

Cantatrices is the school's auditioned choir and more traditional in approach, while Zing is an open-to-all choir, where students can have a go.

"They have the input into what they sing," Carter said. "They are in it for fun and it gives girls a chance to sing. They all want to be there."

The other two choirs from the school are the junior choir, led by music teacher Danielle Joe, and the a capella choir guided by Virginia Warbrick.

Palmerston North Boys' High has a strong tradition of male choirs and will be represented by three at the Big Sing.

The school's longstanding choir, The OK Chorale, will be celebrating its 21st anniversary this year and has won competitions at national level over that time.

Head of the music department at the school, Graham Young, said the choir always liked to do something a bit different while still meeting the criteria. "This year is a bit special with the anniversary," said Young. "We are revisiting some of the songs that we sang over the years and we are really lucky to be doing a piece that was written for the choir by Josie Burden in 2008 called Kei Whea Mai."

Son of a Pitch is the school's open-to-all students choir, being 60 singers strong with a fun focus.

"They have just been accepted as the wildcard choice in the Wellington regional competition, Singers in Harmony," said Young. "It will be a great experience. It is always good to have that amount of guys singing in one room."

Also performing will be St Matthew's Collegiate, Nga Tawa Diocesan School, Freyberg High School, St Peter's College, Feilding High School and Rathkeale College.

The Big Sing will be at the Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North, on June 11.

Manawatu Standard