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2015 annual reports presented at the AGM held on 14 March 2016

Eric Sidoti, Music Director

Welcome to the annual report for 2015 from me, the music director.  I thought about singing the whole thing to you, but decided against that.  You all have much better voices than I do!  I will try to keep the report concise, in an attempt not to bore you to sleep.

2015 was another successful year, musically, for the Chorale.  Challenging, but successful. Nothing was more challenging than the first major work we undertook, Judith Bingham’s The Christmas Truce.  A modern piece telling a story from 100 years ago, this definitely challenged the choir in many ways – language, tonality, strange rhythms, and having the Tenors and Basses split on either side of the choir.  As a central part of our World War 1 commemoration concert, it was certainly memorable for both us and the audience.  This was couple with a medley of popular World War 1 songs, a great rendition of Holst’s I Vow to Thee My Country, including the very rarely heard middle verse, and an entire block of New Zealand and Australia music.  We had notable solo performances from Olivia Sheat (our vocal award winner) and Howard Chamberlain, and experienced the organ playing of Martin Setchell from Christchurch.

This concert will also be memorable for the fact that our ‘dress’ rehearsal was abandoned on the Thursday night because of the once in 100 years weather bomb that hit the area – quite appropriate in hindsight surrounding a 100 year commemoration, but certainly inconvenient for so many of us.  It made the first time in my career I have ever held a final rehearsal and the concert on the same day.  I hope we never need to do that again.

The second session, Elijah, again challenged the choir in a number of different ways.  This was the first truly ‘major’ work I have done with the Chorale, and the amount of music to learn meant outlining a full schedule through the entire session up front, in order to cover everything at least twice.  And outside of most of the ‘orchestral’ introduction, we did every note and every song in Elijah, something seldom done.  The end result was truly pleasing, with the excellent organ playing of Jonathan Berkahn underneath a very strong choir and large solo ensemble.  The troubles plagued us here too, but different ones – of the 10 soloists, all of the females were ill for the concert (most having had their voices affected), and our Elijah himself (Simon Christie) was barely recovered from a chest infection.  They all did remarkably well under the conditions.

The third session, by contrast, was pure pleasure.  A Mozart-only concert, combined with the Kapiti Chamber Choir, and featuring the New Zealand premiere of Duncan Druce’s completion of the Requiem, was presented at Nga Purapura in Otaki to a crowd of nearly 500.  A spectacular quartet of soloists helped to augment the large and accomplished chamber orchestra and combined choirs.  The Chorale did Benedictus Sit Deus to begin the concert, with Imogen Thirlwall, another vocal award recipient, singing the beautiful second movement.  We then performed what was called a ‘haunting rendition’ of the Ave Verum Corpus as well as Veni Sancte Spiritus combined with the Chamber Choir.  The biggest challenge for the choir in this session was, obviously to me, learning the Classical pronunciation of Latin when so many of you have only previously been familiar with the Ecclesiastical pronunciation.  We very nicely and unexpectedly got a glowing review written up for this concert, and a public request that we do a combined venture again soon.  That’s not on the plans with the Chamber Choir for a while, though, after having done in twice in two years.

The Music Programme sub-committee continues to assist in guiding us to great programmes.  Their work was instrumental in the World War 1 concert, and again in the Mozart concert.  With large works like Elijah and Hiawatha there is nothing for them to do (other than review the overall programme arc) as these works are concerts unto themselves, but you will see their handiwork in the other two concerts later this year.

I did a radio interview for our first concert, and was schedule to do another one later in the year but had to defer that privilege to Carol Dyer, as I had lost my voice that week!  (Fortunately not an issue tonight.)  I have represented the choir at several NZCF events that take place throughout the year, and continue to put the choir’s name very prominently through the choral grapevine of Wellington.  The choir is now very steadily building a reputation for innovative programming that is beginning to draw audiences from Wellington, as well as requests from soloists to come and sing with us.

I want to express my deep thanks to Carol Dyer, Ruth Barrett, Dawn Brook, Vivien Adams, Jutta Dahne, Myf Skuse, Mary Cobeldick, Kim Murray, and all the other members of the committee who have made a lot of great decisions and worked very hard this past year.  Also thank you to those who have helped out in numerous other ways, from setting up sound systems to setting up chairs to doing readings to the choir to leading warm-ups.  And a special thank you to every one of you that asks questions – those are what keeps everyone on their toes (me especially), and helps us all to clarify things and learn new items.  It is always good to question.

And a huge thank you to Ellen for everything she does.  She is hugely inspirational to all of us.

Thank you for allowing me to stand up front and wave my arms about.  It is great exercise – and brings a lot of joy to my heart, as I hope all that we do brings joy to your heart as well.

Carol Dyer, President

Organisation and Management

Once again we have had a very busy year.  I rather reluctantly took over as President in June, mostly because I felt strongly that our Secretary should have support and we didn't need a situation similar to that of a few years ago.  Unfortunately, we subsequently farewelled Ruth Barrett, our Secretary, who departed to pursue other opportunities.  We have been very fortunate to gain Dawn Brook as Acting Secretary over the past 6-7 months and I am delighted she has agreed to be nominated as Secretary in the forthcoming election.

Being part of the Chorale for the enjoyment of its music is the mainstay for members, but we also enjoy continuing long-term friendships and great camaraderie.  Being a member brings responsibilities; may I remind you that regular attendance, (something Peter Godfrey often ranted about!) following the Music Director's instructions, not talking unnecessarily at practice, caring for the music, doing your practice of the current music, wearing the correct 'uniform', are all part of being a responsible member.  Thank you to those who offer assistance and ideas; the committee welcomes input and I especially, appreciate initiative in this direction.  It's rather dangerous to single out special people but Bronwyn Parker, Sarah Lloyd, Tony Fuell, Noeline Cuzens and the Otaki 'crew' have been very helpful in various ways during the past year.

It is sad when we have to farewell members, mostly for health reasons but also because they move away.  We have 'lost' several members over the past year, but equally we have welcomed new members in their place.  I hope that these people enjoy our Kapiti Chorale as much as I do.  The past year has also been significant with at least four broken limbs, falls and a voiceless MD!

Chorale members are also enterprising as they have participated in other musical opportunities – NZCF Workshop; Praise Be at Wellington Cathedral; singing with the NZSO for example.

The committee has worked extremely hard this past year as it seems that planning, organisation and management of concerts have greatly increased.  The requirements for each concert vary so we need to work very much as a team.  Our three new members last year have stepped up and taken on their responsibilities admirably; unfortunately Margaret Hyland is stepping down.  We thank you Margaret for your input over the past year.  Trish Glen our website person, is also stepping down and our thanks go to you too Trish for endeavouring to keep the website going, and for your input.  I am indebted to all on our committee for their guidance, suggestions, observations and keeping me in order!  Thank you very much team.

I haven't mentioned our concerts or the music.  I believe this is our Music Director's prerogative; suffice to say, the challenges of finding soloists, organists and orchestral members, mean that Eric sometimes needs extra support and this has been willingly given.  At his request, the committee were pleased to appoint Ann-Marie Stapp as Assistant Music Director during the year and this has proved beneficial both to the choir and to Eric.  Ann-Marie is also part of the Music Selection Committee.

We are extremely lucky to have Eric as our Music Director, as I observe the number of choirs needing an MD is increasing; we need to look after him.  And our indefatigable Ellen, with her unerring ear, continues to keep each section on track so we can perform at our best.  Thank you to both of you, seems totally inadequate.

I would like to move that my report be accepted.