Scholars Baroque Aotearoa is one of New Zealand's leading baroque chamber choirs.
Not long after organist and choirmaster, Chalium Poppy, settled in New Zealand in 2009, he was approached by numerous singers within the local community who were not only aware of his expertise in baroque music and performance practices but also shared his passion for the early musical traditions of the church. It was their feeling that the community was starved and ready for a locally-based early music ensemble.
His first endeavour was to form and train a small group of dedicated choristers to sing an occasional service of Choral Evensong at St. Peter's Mount Maunganui, a historic stone church overlooking the central business district of Mt. Maunganui. The first two services of Choral Evensong drew crowds of well over 200 each time, but their scheduling was sporadic requiring only temporary time commitment from the singers. Consequently, the singers began to yearn for something structured more formally with a regular rehearsal schedule. By autumn of 2010, Chalium had painstakingly auditioned and selected the singers he wanted to form the Scholars Pro Musica. The choir changed its name to Scholars Baroque Aotearoa in 2018.
The Scholars are a chamber choir dedicated to informed performances of period music (often baroque) with an emphasis on stylistic excellence and superior choral sound; often exploring forgotten and previously unknown sacred choral works. The Scholars are so called because of each members desire to further and more fully understand the music they perform and share the knowledge of that music with their audiences; whether it be the work's historical significance or the more complex underlying choral nuances.
By definition, a chamber choir is smaller in membership than typically larger choral societies or community choirs; however, its smaller size is quite deliberate. The fewer the singers, the greater the possibility of having a more focused and crisper choral sound. But as a consequence of having fewer voices, there is also a greater possibility for individual singers to feel and sound exposed. Thus, much more time and energy is exerted perfecting the overall cohesive, balanced tone and blend of voices. Choral cooperation is paramount as the singer's sensitivity towards their fellow musicians is heightened. Every voice must be strong and confident without exception. It is this style of music-making that defines the Scholar's unique sound of the Scholars Baroque Aotearoa.