Choirs ring in night of harmony

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 13/06/2013
Big Sing
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Fairfax NZ

GETTING IT RIGHT: Members of the Nelson College for Girls' Stella Nova choir.

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A Spanish folk song performed by Marlborough Girls' College choir Bella Voce was a "real show-stopper" in the Nelson Cathedral last night, but choirs from Nelson College for Girls and Motueka High School also took top accolades in the regional festival Big Sing.

Regional co-ordinator Myles Payne said the event, which started at the Nelson School of Music yesterday with the competition and then the gala concert at the Cathedral last night, was proof that the spirit of singing was thriving in Nelson and Marlborough.

Seven choirs from the two Marlborough colleges, Nelson College for Girls, Motueka High School and Waimea College took part.

The Nelson College for Girls choir, Stella Nova, won the categories for performing a New Zealand composition or arrangement and the category for performing a European pre-1930 work.

Marlborough Girls' College choir Bella Voce won the open styles category and the Adjudicator's Choice award was presented to Motueka High School choir Suono Bellissimo, for several factors including stage presence, Mr Payne said.

The adjudicator was the musical director of the Hamilton Civic Choir and Waikato University lecturer, Rachael Griffiths-Hughes.

Each choir presented one 10-minute recital, in which three songs were performed, with at least one being a New Zealand or Pasifika composition. About 9000 students nationally are taking part in this year's regional festivals, from which a selection of choirs will be chosen to perform at the national final in Dunedin in August.

Mr Payne credited the Nelson College for Girls' success with the input and influence of teacher and choir director Rebecca Monopoli.

"There's been a huge improvement in the girls' college choir since she became director.

"She's such a vibrant personality and students flock to her choirs."

Mr Payne said the 30 members of the Stella Nova senior choir had worked extremely hard, with regular practices twice a week on their performance of I Am Not Yours , Szello Zug and Crossing the Bar.

Marlborough Girls' College, with the help of musical director Robin Randall, performed E moe te Ra, Der Wassermann and El Vito.

Motueka High School choir Suono Bellissimo, directed by Hilary Sinclair, performed Die Nactigall, Release me and Ain't That a Kick in the Head

Mr Payne said the concert was a "magic night", helped by the acoustics within the cathedral, and an audience he estimated was close to 500 in number.

"You could hear every word. The diction was incredible.

"All the choirs were great, and of a very high standard."

He credited the Marlborough choir's "tango"-inspired piece, and their singing and clapping performance of complex rhythms, and the Motueka choir's performance of a piece by a former student. "This really is about promoting the spirit of singing. That's really important to those of us organising this.

"You can't get away from the fact it's a competition, but it's much bigger than that and the compere Stuart Bathan was fantastic at getting the students to see the bigger picture," Mr Payne said. Adjudicators would now meet and select 22 choirs from the regional events to compete in the national grand final.

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- The Nelson Mail

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