Choir hopes a new conductor will heed their call

Phoenix Singers (from left) Neil Cullen, president Stephanie Bowden, Belinda Mason, and Suzanne...
Phoenix Singers (from left) Neil Cullen, president Stephanie Bowden, Belinda Mason, and Suzanne Schofield are seeking a new conductor for their 25-strong Balclutha choir. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Wanted: Unflappable individual with good sense of rhythm (humour also preferred).

A long-standing South Otago choir may be silenced indefinitely if it cannot find a new conductor very soon.

The Phoenix Singers are looking forward to celebrating their 21st anniversary this year, but fear festivities may be muted due to an unavoidable double disappearance of their musical director, and his co-conductor.

Choir president Stephanie Bowden said musical director of five years Colin Child was stepping down to pursue other interests, and co-conductor Jackie Frisby would not return until later this year, after a six-month sabbatical.

That left an "unharmonious gap" centre stage, which she and fellow members hoped would be filled by a conductor possessing a "good sense of rhythm and humour".

"It’s our 21st anniversary year so there’s a chance for someone to come and take a leading part in that, by selecting our musical programme and helping us sing at our very best for the Clutha public.

"Our members come from as far afield as Mosgiel and towards Gore, so we’d find a way to get you here, and are really willing to hear from anyone who might be able to help us keep doing what we all love."

The choir evolved from former female-voice Balclutha choir the Sweet Adalines, after it welcomed male voices in 2000.

Since then, membership had been "very consistent" at about 25, Mrs Bowden said. Six members were men.

"We sing everything from Baroque to Beatles, so we’re very open to new material, and are seasoned performers.

"We rehearse and perform in a warm, dry hall with a great acoustic, and flatter ourselves that we make a reasonably sweet sound, so I’d say our incoming conductor could be pretty satisfied."

The choir sang to the strains of experienced accompanist, pianist Donna Pennycook, and performed to audiences of 100-plus in May and December.

Rehearsals were year-round from February, save for a winter break from June to August, and took place in Balclutha from 7.30pm to 9.30pm on Mondays.

Mrs Bowden said an unscheduled hiatus in the choir’s activities would leave a "big hole" in people’s lives.

"This is our weekly fix of performing - we love it so much we’d keep singing even if there were no audience.

"But we definitely need someone out front to steer the ship."

She said prospective applicants could contact the choir via its Facebook page.

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