Scholars Baroque Aotearoa: A New Zealand Chamber Choir
When the Scholars were first formed, shortly after I settled in New Zealand, I could never have envisaged the musical journey that has been the last 8 years. This choir has challenged me and I have challenged them. They have matured and developed into a formidable choral force and a first class chamber choir. As the Artistic and Musical Director, it is my duty to plot the course of the Scholars; to carefully plan and ensure for their future. As such, I am constantly asking myself, "What next? Where do we go from here?". As a result of this exercise, it became clear that as the choir has changed so significantly, it followed that perhaps a change in name was also needed to better reflect the choir of today - its membership and direction.
This acknowledges not only our beginnings as the former Scholars Pro Musica, but it also speaks to the careful and academic approach to music-making of the choir; the learning that takes place at our rehearsals, the inquiring mind of each singer and their ardent desire to strive to perform as a more sensitive and informed musician. It has often been said by members that no one leaves a rehearsal without learning something new about the music they are preparing or about the art of singing in general. With a large number of singers furthering their formal musical education either through formal voice training, university studies, or through through examinations with the Royal School of Church Music or Trinity College, London no other term better defines our membership than that of "scholar". Furthermore, the unique scholarship program the choir offers to our young future singers ensures they have a solid choral education to prepare them for the possibility of a life-long musical career.
To acknowledge the period of music which is, of course, my particular area of both interest and expertise as a performer and conductor. Those of you who have faithfully followed the choir's progress will know that it has most often performed music from the 17th and 18th centuries. This is by no means exclusive. The choir will continue to compliment its baroque concerts by programming occasional works from other centuries and styles as it has always done.
This is to me the most important aspect to the new Scholars. The standard of choral excellence achieved by the singers before you tonight earns the Scholars a place on our national stage alongside other New Zealand chamber choirs. They are worthy and deserving of this honour. While we shall continue to perform to our supportive audience here in Tauranga Moana, it is now time for the choir to increase its profile to the enjoyment of other communities. Moreover, a quick glance at the passports held by our singers, and you will soon find not only Kiwis, but Australians, English, Americans, Germans, South Africans, Latvians, Filipinos, and the list goes on. This, to me, is Scholars Baroque Aotearoa - a musical home sought by each one of these singers where they may come together as one Whanau through the universal language of song.
Written by: Chalium Poppy
for the 2018 Messiah programme