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With media tending to highlight mainly sporting achievements of this country’s young people, it is generally not known that New Zealand choral-singing, particularly in the 15-30 age-group, is among the very best in the world, with our choirs regularly performing and competing internationally, receiving rave reviews and top placings.
A love for choral performance is incubated through secondary school choirs, and the Otago branch of the NZ Choral Federation (co-ordinator Carole Randall) has just hosted 24 choirs chosen at regional heats from 250 school choirs registering 9600 singers, for the three day Big Sing 2016 national final.
Saturday night’s Finale filled Dunedin Town Hall with youthful talent, great enthusiasm and phenomenal blending of vocal sound as each choir in turn presented one song to the sell-out audience.
Repertoire was varied, with Scandinavian and Eastern European language alongside the more traditional German, French and Pasifika songs.
Contemporary items were popular, especially those by NZ composers, and all with considerable degrees of difficulty.
Disciplined arm and hand choreography, and individual facial and body language contributed to the success of many items, sometimes adding humour to receive spontaneous cheering and clapping from the youthful downstairs audience of participants.
Compere John Drummond also received wild acclamation for his many musical jokes.
Choirs had performed five songs each over two and a-half days before the Finale, all meticulously assessed by three adjudicators, who decided the winners of the gold, silver and bronze awards.
A prestigious platinum award went to Choralation from Westlake High School, Auckland.
The smallest choir comprised 18 singers, but the majority were much bigger, the largest numbering 62.
The only Dunedin finalist, St Hilda’s Collegiate Madrigal Choir, received a bronze award.
The final massed item was an arrangement of French Canadian folk-song Son de la Loma, conducted by Andrew Withington.
Incredible volume and exuberance totally swamped any trace of finesse or expression of text as 900 teenagers demonstrated their love of movement, singing and harmonising.
As one of the adjudicators commented: "you guys rocked".
The local NZCF team are to be congratulated on the successful management of such a huge competition, and several northern choir personnel commented on the daily coverage given the event by the Otago Daily Times.
- Elizabeth Bouman
Big Sing 2016 National Finale
Dunedin Town Hall, August 27