Reluctant retirement for city choir stalwart

Glennie Jamieson plans to continue her  enjoyment  of music, after stepping down from City Choir...
Glennie Jamieson plans to continue her enjoyment of music, after stepping down from City Choir Dunedin after 51 years in the alto section. Photo by Brenda Harwood.
Life in Dunedin has been synonymous with a life in music for Glennie Jamieson (80), who recently stepped down as a member of City Choir Dunedin after 51 years.

Mrs Jamieson's long service was recently acknowledged with the presentation of the choir's George R. West Award, which she received alongside fellow choir stalwarts Wendy Coppin (43 years) and Gillian Watson (43 years).

A member of the Sydney University Musical Society, as a student of French and psychology in the 1950s, Mrs Jamieson joined the then Schola Cantorum (now City Choir Dunedin) when she moved to Dunedin in 1962.

''Another woman working in the university library, Pat Buchan, was a choir member and she encouraged me to join,'' Mrs Jamieson said.

''I have loved it ever since. We have sung so many wonderful works over the years.''

Throughout her adult life, Mrs Jamieson has been a stalwart member of the choir, even performing Bach's Mass in B Minor while eight months' pregnant.

''I was determined to be part of that concert and, even though I was short of breath in the long phrases, it was worth it.''

The longest period Mrs Jamieson had away from the choir was a four-month hiatus in 1970, when her late husband Don, also a university librarian, was on sabbatical.

Throughout her career as a university librarian, which included working with rare books at Selwyn College and at Knox College Library, Mrs Jamieson enjoyed the opportunity to sing alongside university colleagues and others in the choir's diverse membership.

''People come from all over the place to sing; it's amazing to see,'' she said.

Mrs Jamieson recalls many musical highlights, including touring Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem to Invercargill, a large and enthusiastic performance of Carmina Burana, and more recently performances of Bach's Mass in B Minor and Verdi's Requiem with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

''There have been dozens of performances at Dunedin Town Hall, which is a fantastic place to perform.''

In recent years, keeping up with the choir's often demanding rehearsal schedule has become a challenge for the Dunedin grandmother, leading to her reluctant withdrawal.

''I'm going to miss the choir terribly - it has been a huge part of my life,'' she said.


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