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More than 800 young voices light up The Regent for The Big Sing Manawatu/Whanganui 2018

Hundreds of young voices joined in a day of harmony, rhythm and expression at the regional The Big Sing for secondary schools. The annual day pits Manawatū-Whanganui secondary school choirs, barbershop groups and other ensembles against each other to vie for top vocal performance gongs.

The showcase, at The Regent on Broadway in Palmerston North on Wednesday, was part of the country’s biggest musical competition, organised by the New Zealand Choral Federation. About 9000 students were expected to take place in 10 regional events nationally, and about 840 singers from 22 choirs were scheduled for the Manawatū event, with choirs of up to 90 students.

Singer Emma-Katte Johnston, 14, said the event is a highlight of the year for her choir. “We’re called Cantatrice. It’s the high-performance audition choir for Palmerston North Girls’ High. We work on this for two terms. It’s about getting to show everyone our songs.” Meeting other young people who were into singing and seeing other schools’ items made them feel more inspired, she said. The choir was performing Latin work Lux Aeterna, an upbeat song in Spanish, Sigue, and a modern song, I Am Not Yours.

Singing was a connection to traditions and to your past, said Kokoro Frost, 16, who is part of the Palmerston North Boys’ High Pasifika choir. “We’re singing a Tongan song, Oku’iai, and a Samoan song, Alalaga Tatou. They’re hymns that represent our culture and give praise to the man above and it just gives us the chance to be part of a brotherhood.” The choir was especially good at harmonies and solid volume, he said. “Seeing other performances is good because you see the diversity, and other dynamics and influences.”

Competition heats were taking place during the day on Wednesday, before an evening gala concert.
This year, the national Big Sing Finale is in Wellington from August 30 to September 1.

Cantatrices from Palmerston North Girls’ High School won the Shona and Barry Old award for the best overall performance in the recital sessions.

The Ministry for Youth Development “Spirit of the Festival” award went to Miracle Malu, from Palmerston North Boys’ High School.

The Manawatu-Whanganui Big Sing trophy for the best junior choir in the festival went to the St Matthew’s Collegiate School (Masterton) junior choir.

Celestial Brown, from Palmerston North Girls’ High School, won the Palmerston North Choral Society trophy for the student who has given outstanding support to their choir as a student conductor, instrumentalist or accompanist.

The Judith and Guy Donaldson trophy for the best performance of a New Zealand work was won by Dolce Com from Feilding High School.

The Renaissance Singers’ Trophy for the best A cappella (unaccompanied) performance in the festival – category two music went to Sine Nomine, from Waiopehu College in Levin.

Story by Karoline Tuckey
Picture: Son of a Pitch choir, from Palmerston North Boys’ High School.