As I sit at my desk to write, I am scarcely able to find enough space to place my small laptop. My desk top is blanketed with an accumulation of scores and concert programmes from 2018 - all waiting for me to find the time early in the New Year to file them away in my music library and archive respectively. It is, a snapshot, however, of what a fantastic and exciting year 2018 has been.
I wrote at the beginning of the year that it would be one of collaboration. Late in 2017, we received an exciting invitation to share a concert with our friends at the Bay of Plenty Symphonia as they premiered two lost compositions by Gustav Holst - unearthed, amazingly, here in Tauranga. It was a tremendously rewarding experience to work with such a fine conductor (Justus), and such a large orchestra as we shared the stage of Baycourt. The Scholars were able to explore some new and interesting repertoire as we focussed on music of Holst's contemporaries.
Both the second and third concerts of the season saw the Scholars join forces with our national baroque orchestra, NZbAROK. It is always a fantastic learning experience to perform with these early music specialists. Having formed and nurtured a collegial relationship with NZbAROK over the past four years, our rehearsals are both electric and scholastic as we share musical ideas and explore new ways of breathing fresh life into ancient choral masterworks.
The Dixit Dominus concert featured perhaps one of the most challenging vocal works the Scholars have tackled but they performed it with effortless confidence to an extremely appreciative audience. It was balanced by the well-loved and majestic Coronation Anthems which are always a favourite.
Our annual performance of Messiah with NZbAROK is now a favourite community event. Choir, orchestra, and our four outstanding world-class soloists, thoroughly enjoy presenting this each year to such a large and adoring audience. Prior to our baroque Messiah at the end of the year, the Scholars like to offer a sing-along Messiah event as a fundraiser and opportunity for any and all to come out and have a sing with the Scholars. This is an event we would very much like to see grow and expand in future years.
An experiment this year was the dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It was a wonderfully fun experience and a we were given a great deal of positive and constructive feedback to help us improve upon this event in future years. It was great to hear this seasonal favourite presented by three such talented and dramatic readers.
Only last night, the Scholars presented their final performance of the year - the service of Nine Lessons & Carols at St. Peter's. This is a service we present on behalf of the Anglican Parish of Mount Maunganui who so generously permit us to use St. Peter's and the instruments there for rehearsal and concerts. This is always a popular sing this time of year and the numbers are increasing. We are always seeking ways in which to make your Scholars experience better, so we will be re-examining this service next year to see if we can't improve on it, including shortening it somewhat.
Perhaps the most significant event in the life of the Scholars this year was their name change and rebranding to the Scholars Baroque Aotearoa. I have written at length previously as to why I felt it was time to reconsider this choir and its direction. The future of this amazing group of singers is indeed very bright and exciting as I now begin to think about what scores will find their way onto my desk for our 2019 season.
Written by Chalium Poppy
Musical & Artistic Director
You can read Chalium’s decision for changing the choirs name by clicking here.