How about this for a summer holiday? Being part of a capacity choir of 90 enthusiastic singers; with an internationally-renowned conductor, excellent soloists, vocal coaching and accompaniment; splendid surroundings, activities, and great food; relaxing evenings mixing it up with hard-core board gamers; all in nine days of singing and special events – and, at the end of it all, performing music to a nearly capacity audience in Nelson’s Old St John’s Church.
Yes, that was Nelson’s Teapot Valley Choral Summer School for 2018. And what a treat to have Denmark’s Ebbe Munk again to lead us in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Bortniansky’s Concerto No 24 for Choir, and Morton Lauridsen’s Sure on this Shining Night. Not to mention a setting of Ave Maria by our very own Chris Artley, sung as a duet by our two male soloists.
The ninety singers came from all around New Zealand – from Warkworth to Central Otago. Ten young music students took advantage of the special student rate, with four of them auditioning for the scholarship to join the Youth Choirs of Great Britain’s Easter session. This year the scholarship was awarded to Aucklander William King who is studying at University of Victoria’s School of Music.
Wellington pianist Jonathan Berkahn accompanied the rehearsals and the concert and Judy Bellingham brought the choir up to speed each morning, with specially focused warm-ups also individual coaching sessions for the whole choir. Sopranos Rebecca Ryan and Sophie Sparrow sang the two fiendishly in the Mass, and Masame Latu and Will King the tenor and baritone solos.
The Sunday afternoon concert was performed to a very enthusiastic audience in Old St John’s – who expressed their appreciation with an extended standing ovation! Next year’s Teapot Valley Choral Summer School dates and details, are 11-20 January 2019, with Brian Kay back to direct us. Once again, 90 singers are really all that can be accommodated, so organisers Inga Lane and her team will be offering first-come, first-served registration for 2019 – but balancing the voice part numbers of course. Altos and sopranos will need to be quick off the mark.