Silver for Menasing at Big Sing

August 25, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Competing against 22 choirs from around the country, the College was one of only five schools nationwide to have two choirs represented at the Big Sing National Competition last week. For the 50 Saint Kentigern choristers, divided between the Premier Choir, Kentoris, and the all-boys choir, Menasing, it was a fantastic experience to be chosen to compete at this level, made all the richer for Menasing being awarded silver and Kentoris bronze after the three days of competition. This is the first year that two of our choirs have been selected at this level and we are proud of their achievement! Menasing is now recognised as one of the top four male choirs in the country.

Over the course of three days, beginning on Thursday, each choir performed two full recitals in front of the judges and then came together en masse for a Gala Concert and Award Ceremony on Saturday night in the spectacular back drop of the Town Hall.

During the festival, Menasing quickly proved to be one of the crowd favourites of the competition.  Their first recital started with a tongue in cheek, Andrew Baldwin piece based on the nursery rhyme ‘Mary Mary Quite Contrary.’  They then moved to the popular Celtic Choral piece ‘Dulaman,’ which featured Year 13 student, Jack Muirhead as the soloist, who impressively captured the tongue-twisting Celtic language to create a very engaging performance.  The choir then finished their set with a piece by Francis Poulenc of one of the prayers of St Francis of Assisi 'O Mes Tres Chers Freres'.  This featured Year 10 tenor, Sid Chand as the lone soloist calling for all his brothers to listen to his words and gather with him in prayer.  

Menasing's second recital was a skilfully shaped Mendelssohn duet about a dangerous voyage at sea.  Year 13 students, Jamie Hofer and Sam Downes were featured as soloists for this piece and created a very dramatic start to the second programme.  They finished with an acappella arrangement of a Pennsylvanian Dutch folk song, Johnny Schmoker.  This was the piece had the audience in fits of laughter with some flamboyant movements to go with the light-hearted text.  The judges chose this piece for Menasing to perform at the Gala, which featured an additional cameo by Mr Craig bursting on to stage with his bagpipes! This, coupled with Menasing's high energy performance, drew one of the few standing ovations of the evening!  

Kentoris also sang two recitals of challenging and exciting music. Their first recital comprised of 'The Panther', by American composer Eric Whitacre. This set the poem of Ogden Nash with dramatic text set to dynamic choral writing.  They then tackled prolific French composer, Maurice Durufle's ‘Ubi Caritas,’ which is a motet setting of an early Gregorian chant.  The first recital finished with 'There's No Earthly Way of Knowing' written for the choir by NZ Composer Andrew Baldwin.  This featured a fiendishly difficult piano part married with Roald Dahl poetry that created a terrifyingly effective ending to Kentoris' first appearance.

The second recital comprised an arrangement of ‘Greensleeves’ by former King’s Singer, Bob Chilcott.  This featured a semi-chorus of our College Octet 'The Kents Singers' and showcased the choirs beautiful line and tone.  Kentoris finished with a movement from Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzer’ called 'Ein Kleiner Hubcher Vogel' or ‘The Little Pretty Bird’ which highlighted our impressive tenor section, and featured a double piano accompaniment played skilfully by Mr Timothy Carpenter and Miss Gracie Francis.  This was also the piece the judges chose for Kentoris to sing at the Gala Concert on Saturday Evening. A fitting end for a great competition. 

Over the course of the competition, there is a live web stream on the NZ Choral Federation website and videos of the Finale are being uploaded to Youtube this week through this channel.

Well done to both choirs! These two awards, along with the silver achieved by our Middle School choir, A Minor at Kids Sing, along with gold for our Symphonic Orchestra and silver for the Concert Band, add to the continued success of the Music Department in 2014.  

Back to News List