This year the Palmerston North Choral Society is celebrating 100 years of singing. Other choirs had ‘come and gone’ in earlier times but it was in 1919, that Mr John Holmes Runnicles conducted a combined choir in a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Opera House as part of the civic peace celebrations. Beginning as a Philharmonic Society, there were several name changes until in 1966 the choir re-adopted the name Palmerston North Choral Society.
Newspaper archives tell of memorable performances of all the major works, but also record difficult times during wars and depressions, financial struggles and successes, musical challenges and triumphs.
For its centenary year, the choir has planned two concerts. The first on July 6th features a work commissioned from local composer Graham Parsons. Entitled ‘Songs of Home’, this work has five movements for SSAATB choir, baritone soloist and organ accompaniment. Each movement tells part of the history and life of Manawatu including a description of the local flora and fauna, the A and P Show, the war experience, a Saturday night country dance and a conclusion ‘In Praise of Song.’
The second concert will be a performance of ‘Messiah’ in The Regent Theatre on 30th November, accompanied by the Manawatu Sinfonia.
Souvenir centenary programmes are being produced and a celebratory dinner will be held. Archivist Carrol Donoghue has been responsible for the collection and sorting of detailed records which tell the story of this choir’s significant contribution to the arts in Palmerston North and its wider community.