By Frank Zhou /
The Macleans College Choir (MCC) won a gold award for the first time at the Big Sing National Finale, held in Wellington between 13 and 15 August.
The choir has attended the Big Sing National Finale for the past three years, starting in 2010. In 2010 and 2011, they were awarded silver awards.
This year, the choir left Auckland for Wellington on the afternoon of Wednesday the 12th.
On Thursday the 13th, the competition officially started with the opening ceremony. Firstly, there were speeches from mayors and organisers. Then the Junior Choir from Wellington East Girls’ College came and sang two pieces. Their first one involved cat ears and tails as costuming. Their second piece was Bohemian Rhapsody.
However, the highlight of the ceremony was hearing the Musical Island Boys perform. This male barbershop quartet recently placed second in the world.
The choir’s first competitive session was on Friday.
They started off their programme with an arrangement of Haec dies composed by William Byrd around 1591. This unaccompanied Renaissance and Latin piece had six different voices, or lines of music, weaving in and out of each other.
Their second piece was a New Zealand composition: I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes, by Christopher Artley. This rousing piece was accompanied by Douglas Mews on organ and Robert Hudson on trumpet.
The final piece for that session was the American spiritual I’m Gonna Sing, arranged by André Thomas and accompanied by Angel Swasbrook on piano.
The choir’s next session was on the next day, Saturday. They again sang three pieces.
The first was Im Grünen, by Felix Mendelssohn, an unaccompanied German piece which describes delicate pastoral scenes, and was intended to be sung in the open air.
The second piece was A Spotless Rose, a flowing Christmas Carol composed by Herbert Howells, featuring a baritone solo by Ben Kubiak.
The final piece the choir sang was coincidentally the final piece of the whole competition. This was Wairua Tapu, a sacred Maori piece by Wehi Whānau, accompanied by Luke Heath-Edwards on guitar and featuring actions based on Maori sign language.
The highlight of the festival was the Gala Concert on Saturday night. Here each choir performed one piece, and the Macleans College choir performed Im Grünen, which many felt was the “best performance” they had ever done for that piece.
Then the awards ceremony followed. A huge scream erupted from the Macleans College Choir seats as their name was read out for the gold awards.
The National Finale concluded with all the choirs coming together to sing two traditional African songs along with the National Anthem.
To hear all the recordings from the festival, including the performances by the Macleans College Choir, please go to: http://www.r2.co.nz/20120816/