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More than 830 choristers from 24 secondary schools across the country have flooded into Dunedin for the start of the Big Sing National Finale in the Dunedin Town Hall today, and will be using any available space to rehearse their parts.
The southern region will be represented by Southland Girls' High School (Invercargill) choir Femme and Craighead Diocesan School (Timaru) choir Craighead Chorale.
The recital sessions are open to the public between 2pm and 9.30pm today, 11am and 8pm tomorrow and 11am and 12.15pm on Saturday.
The Big Sing National Finale will conclude with a gala concert on Saturday from 6.30pm-10pm, which will be compered by television presenter and former New Zealand Youth Choir member Hilary Barry.
''I first auditioned for the New Zealand National Youth Choir when I was in sixth form [year 12] in 1986, and to my surprise, since I thought I'd done a very ordinary audition, I got in,'' Ms Barry said.
''I cannot understate how much I loved my Youth Choir experience, both the music and the friendship.
''To see former choir-mates like Tecwyn Evans and Simon O'Neill doing so well on the world stage makes me feel really proud too.
''On a performance level, I think the Youth Choir gave me confidence to use my voice, which has been handy given my chosen career.''
Big Sing Otago host co-ordinator Carole Randall was delighted the national finale was being held in Dunedin again, because it brought a buzz to the city.
''Working with young people and the atmosphere that they create and the commitment they give to excellence is very exciting.
''It's not often we get the country's best young singers here in the city all at once. So anyone coming along to listen can expect some very high-quality performances.
''We've had other overseas adjudicators in previous years who have said the quality just blows them away.''
She said this year's event would be adjudicated by American Choral Directors' Association executive director Tim Sharp; Associate Prof James Tibbles of the University of Auckland School of Music; United Kingdom-based New Zealand opera singer Madeleine Pierard; and Kotahi Mano Kaika Te Reo culture and identity strategy project leader Paulette Tamati-Elliffe.