Ashburton chorus makes most of flood stranding

Members of Ashburton College’s Phoenix Chorus (from left to right) Charlotte McKenzie (15), Emma...
Members of Ashburton College’s Phoenix Chorus (from left to right) Charlotte McKenzie (15), Emma Cochrane (16), Zoe Kenny (17) and Libby Ryan (17) were stranded in Dunedin by Canterbury floods. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
After their trial by flood water, members of Ashburton College’s Phoenix Chorus were musically stronger when they left Dunedin for home yesterday.

Eighteen members of the college’s senior choir, the Phoenix Chorus, arrived in Dunedin last Thursday, with three teachers and two other adults, and performed successfully several times in the city.

Singing began at the Larnach Castle ballroom last Friday and ended at the Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital on Monday.

However, at the weekend, choir members became concerned about the wellbeing of family members and friends from the Ashburton area after a rare red alert for flooding was issued, and a state of emergency declared.

Because the Ashburton Bridge and some key roads were closed for much of Tuesday, college staff postponed their planned departure until yesterday.

College junior school head and choir manager Carolyn Clough said the pupils had benefited musically and in other ways from their experiences.

Many people, including former college pupils in Dunedin, rallied to help, one person lending a car for food shopping.

"People have been so friendly and understanding," Mrs Clough said.

Tahuna Holiday Park management helpfully pencilled in a further booking, although it was unclear when the chorus could leave.

One pupil, Charlotte McKenzie, said concerns about family and friends had initially taken "first priority", given "the chance of something going wrong".

"It’s a bit disappointing not to be at home," fellow pupil, Emma Cochrane, said.

Zoe Kenny felt "pretty good now I know that everybody’s safe".

And Libby Ryan was also "relieved" about the outcome.

The choir reported on Facebook that they had performed at the Otago Museum on Sunday with the New Zealand Red Cross Choir, and also had an "amazing workshop" with tenor Benjamin Madden at St Paul’s Cathedral, and worked with Dr Jared Corbett, two of the country’s "brightest young talents in choral music".


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