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.

 
 

Having an expert interest in early music practices, Chalium enjoys a very multifaceted career as a singer, organist, conductor, accompanist, lecturer, musical commentator, and teacher. He divides his musical interests between both demanding performance and teaching schedules. 

While living in Canada, Chalium served for six years as an organist and choir master. He also appeared as a soloist with many of Western Canada's leading choirs and orchestras including the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Chamber Orchestra, The Galiano String Ensemble and the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. Additionally, he hosted and produced his own regular radio programme, 'Classic Examples', for Canadian radio.

During his time in New Zealand, Chalium has appeared as a guest soloist with the The Handel Consort & Quire, Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, Tauranga Civic Choir, Hamilton's Cantando and Civic Choirs, Auckland's Graduate Choir, Viva Voce Chamber Choir Chamber Choir. He has also appeared as a guest early music conductor for the Bay of Plenty Symphonia. He is currently the Church Musician in Residence for the Anglican Parish of Mount Maunganui. Chalium's expertise is frequently sought after as a concert reviewer for the Bay of Plenty Times. He also often appears as a guest lecturer for the New Zealand branches of the Royal School of Church Music. 

Chalium has also appeared as a soloist on numerous recordings including two recordings of Händel's Messiah, Bach's Weihnachts Oratorium and Vaughan-Williams' Five Mystical Songs .

 

Choir Members

Friederike Andre
Soprano

Jeremy Andre
Bass

Elizabeth Barrett
Alto

Terry Barrett
Bass

Katherine Bremner
Soprano

Peter Bremner
Tenor

Charlie Childs
Bass

Zane Circule
Alto

Nina De Villiers
Soprano

Tracy Dixon Shum
Alto

Rona Keith
Tenor

Jeandre ‘JD’ le Roux
Tenor

Christine Leaf
Alto

Thelma Lindup
Alto

Tom Maekig
Bass

Jeany Marshall
Soprano

Linda Maude
Soprano

Katrina McChesney
Soprano

Regan McFarlane
Soprano

Francie Reynolds
Soprano

Tim Rogers
Tenor

Ken Sayers
Tenor

Vince Shaw
Bass

Alfred Shum
Bass

Gail Taylor
Soprano

Kirsty Warden
Alto

Jilly Whalley
Alto

Levi Williams
Bass

Hilda Bester
Rehearsal Accompanist

 

Executive Committee

Chalium Poppy
Artistic & Musical Director

Maggie Farmer
President

Gail Taylor
Treasurer

Tracy Dixon Shum
Secretary

Freiderike Andre
PR & Marketing

 

Life Members

Judy MacDougall
Former Rehearsal Accompanist