Sing Aotearoa 16 has received enthusiastic praise from those attending. The festival took place over Labour Weekend in Rotorua, with some 300 choral festival goers from around the country and overseas attending. Including a welcoming powhiri at Tamatekapua Marae at Ohinemutu, the programme was held at the Energy Events Centre and delegates relished the four days to sing, socialise, hear wonderful choirs and learn in stimulating workshops.
Choral streams were led by Guest Conductors Ben Parry, leading the Kokako Singers, David Squire, the Korimako Singers and Julian Raphael, the Tui Singers.
Ben Parry facilitated the Combined Sing, working effectively with the large group. One delegate commented that “his affable interaction with singers and clear directions made working with him a most satisfying experience”.
Evening concerts offered exciting variety. Friday combined the exuberant kapa haka group, Te Morihana Whanau and the stylish Stellar Singers; Saturday gave us precision singing by the exquisite Tudor Consort and the Auckland Chamber Choir; Sunday produced the especially-formed Kokako Singers and the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus, whose members from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch combined for the first time. Feedback was very positive: “The evening concerts were absolutely fabulous. These world class choirs presented great programmes with a variety of musical styles.”
On Sunday afternoon all delegates participated in the Te Puia Sing at Whakarewarewa presenting the world premiere of ‘The Language of Stones’, a touching and contemplative piece written for SA16 by Guest Composer Chris Artley to a text by Auckland poet, Robina Adamson.
The weekend, voted a huge success, closed with moving concert on the lawns in front of the Rotorua Museum. Those attending were enthusiastic about the whole weekend, including the choices of workshops available. One commented that “the range of activities meant that the event never got stale”, another saying about the overall organisation: “the convenient, spacious location, suitable for performing and workshops. The staff were friendly, willing, welcoming, accommodating, nothing was impossible, and everything done with a smile.”
But perhaps the final comment should come from Guest Conductor Ben Parry, who gave the weekend a big thumbs up, saying, “the conference is great – so much better than anything the UK puts on”!