A Tour Choir of 42 boys and 7 staff ‘zipped across the ditch’ to New Zealand during the mid-year school holidays this year. There is always a great buzz as the boys prepare to hit the road – to put into practice the months of rehearsal – and to head overseas just adds that little extra dimension to the level of excitement.
Landing in Auckland, the boys were billeted by the congregation of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Takapuna – what better way to understand the New Zealanders than to share their home life. The boys ‘warmed up’ with a performance at the Park Lane Retirement Village where they sang to over 100 very appreciative residents. Their first formal concert was held at St Peter’s where they shared the stage with the Auckland Boys Choir and an adult a cappella group, the Orlando Singers. A fabulous concert with nigh on 100% audience capacity.
The Choir travelled south to Rotorua and performed at the beautifully restored Rotorua Civic Theatre – the audience here showed their appreciation with a standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert. Next stop was Napier, a city renowned for its Art Deco architecture. The concert was held in the Anglican Cathedral (a building lovingly restored over the previous 80 years after the devastating earthquake of 1931) and what an acoustic. The boys certainly took advantage of this venue and the audience again reaped the benefits. The final stop was Wellington and the city’s Anglican Cathedral of St Paul was the concert venue. We thought we’d been spoilt in Napier – the acoustic at St Paul’s had the boys singing like angels.
Travelling as junior ambassadors of our country, the boys also perform duties other than singing – the Mayor of Rotorua welcomed the boys during their concert there and the boys attended a morning tea and reception in their honour at the Australian High Commission in Wellington. Their meeting and greeting skills often surpass those of many adults – amazing to watch some of them ‘work the room’!
Of course all work and no play makes for very dull choristers. The boys enjoyed visits to Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World & Antarctic Encounter, the Auckland Museum, The SkyTower, Hobbiton Farm – the film set of Lord of the Rings (particularly exciting for the boys given the MSO gig in October) – Te Puia Thermal Reserve, Mitai Maori Village and the Te Papa National Museum in Wellington.
And then there were the interactive visits to the Skyline in Rotorua where the boys rode the luge and gondolas, the Huka Falls where the boys frocked up in snazzy blue mackintoshes and stylish red life vests to hoon around in Jet boats, and finally a ride on the funicular cable car in Wellington. They participated in a traditional Maori welcome and Hangi feast, saw geysers spurting and mud bubbling and had lessons in the Haka – all in all a fantastic, well rounded musical and cultural exchange. Everyone returned safe and sound albeit exhausted.