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2016 annual reports presented at the AGM held on 20 March 2017

Eric Sidoti, Music Director

Another year, another report, and so much to reflect upon!  2016 was truly a year to remember in the musical life of the Chorale.

It all started, of course, with one of the biggest undertakings of the Chorale in recent memory, and one of the bigger challenges for me in my career.  This was the southern hemisphere premiere of Robert Hanson’s Hiawatha, a work of epic proportions with a large orchestra, and long list of soloists, and an additional children’s choir pulled together just for this concert (with the capable assistance of Bridget O’Shannassy).  Because of the scale of the work we never had a chance to rehearse it with everyone until the dress rehearsal.  The composer and his wife travelled from the USA to hear our performance, and he remarked several times afterwards that it was the best one ever done of the piece.  The audience loved it, and we had standing room only – very remarkable for a piece and a composer that no one had heard of before.  Well done to all of you who put in the hard yards to help make this happen.

The second session featured the beautiful works of Charles Gounod, including his sublime Messe Solennelle.  Few of us knew much about Gounod before this session, and the feedback from both choir members and audience showed that many of us now really appreciate this great, if somewhat neglected, composer.  And we got to perform with some more great soloists as well as Elizabeth Salmon on organ.

The third session, like the second session, was also filled with many different pieces, but this time all with a Christmas theme.  This featured Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, a very popular piece for everyone which featured our three soloists as narrators, as well as Rodney Ford on oboe and Joanne Toon on bassoon (as well as the inimitable Ellen on piano).  We also possibly sang the NZ premiere of Holst’s Christmas Day.  And this was our first time to meet Joseph Haddow, our 2015 Vocal Award recipient who enjoyed us enough to come and sing with us later this year too.

We had a great vocal workshop in the middle of the year, led by Maiike Christie-Beekman.  This was the first time in a number of years we have done something like this, and the feedback was positive enough that we will continue to do so as time and clinicians allow.

The Music Programme sub-committee continues to assist in guiding us to these great programmes.  Their work was instrumental in both the second and third sessions.  While some of the sub-committee members will continue on into a new term, I want to especially thank Peter Averi and Carol Dyer who have both served since its inception, and who have stepped down from this particular task now.

I want to express a huge thank to Ann-Marie Stapp, our Assistant Music Director, who contributes so much both behind the scenes and in front, leading pieces in the second and third concerts as well as helping lead some rehearsals.  And deep thanks to Carol Dyer, Denise Evans, Dawn Brook, Vivien Adams, Jutta Dähne-Burns, Myf Skuse, Mary Cobeldick, Kim Murray, Chris Robertson and all the other members of the committee who have made a lot of great decisions and worked very hard this past year.  And I can’t forget to thank all of you who have helped out in numerous other ways, from setting up sound systems to setting up chairs to leading warm-ups to running raffles, and so on.  And, as always, a huge thank you to Ellen for everything she does.

We are a great choir, going from strength to strength.  Thank you for your confidence in all of us who work to make it so.


Carol Dyer, President

My major focus is the organisation and management of choir activities by our committee.

In the days before instant communications, I wonder how previous committees dealt with the details and logistics of the organisation needed to run the Chorale and put on a concert.  I'm sure that the myriad of emails that the committee and I deal with daily, means quicker decision making than in previous times.

The organisation required for Hiawatha in particular, was enormous, especially since it involved a large orchestra, but in my time with the Chorale, this concert would have to be one of the most special, partly because we had the composer with us for the occasion and because the programme was very different.  Two further concerts in August and December didn't seem to engender the same amount of organisation.  Perhaps one disappointment was that the proposed joint concert with Palmerston North Choral Society fell apart despite initial planning and organisation taking place.

Our December Concert marked a change in 'uniform' after many years in 'black and white' and the new 'uniform' along with the tenors and basses in black, was favourably remarked upon by many in the audience.  Our new teal shirts for the women was a major exercise, ably carried through with input from several committee members, namely Mary, Vivien, and Chris, assisted especially by Jude Whitaker and Norma McCallum.

It is always gratifying to receive appreciative emails from members after a concert, praising the result and the hard work of both Eric and the committee.  While we are well rewarded with our three concerts, it would be really good to do two concerts sometimes especially when we have a première programme such as Hiawatha.

The committee and I continually discuss management issues and in the past year we have finalised a Music Handling policy, instigated a Concert Management Plan which is ongoing, and recently completed a Code of Conduct and Complaints procedure.

Maintaining the choir membership is ongoing and despite a major effort over the January period to recruit new members with posters and numerous flyers, this was not particularly successful.  However our Facebook page may change this in due course, and sincere thanks go to Tony Fuell for setting this up and monitoring it.  Our website is a valuable resource especially the rehearsal aids section and while some features could be better, upgrading continues thanks to the endeavours of Vivien and Janie Cook.

As President I have endeavoured to get to know members as part of our choir family, to support those who have been ill, suffered loss or a misfortune, had an operation and to ease the burden of those who might be stressed or overworked.  I do care about each and everyone of you but equally I know that there are several in the choir who are willing to lend a hand when needed or offer a ride somewhere.  One of the unenviable tasks I enjoy least is farewelling those members who decide that the time has come to leave and resign from the Chorale, generally for health reasons.  Every member contributes something to our choir family and as such is missed when they depart.  On the other hand, I like to welcome new guest singers to our choir and hope they enjoy our companionship and music as much as I do.

I very much admire Eric with his boundless energy, smiling support, endless patience and calmness.  This has been apparent for all three concerts which have continued to maintain the high standard and reputation we have established.  I support him unreservedly and enjoy working with him.  We are so fortunate to have a Music Director with such enthusiasm.  Likewise I can only express admiration for our fantastic Ellen; words do not adequately express how much we all revere her and her unbelievable expertise.

Lastly, can I express my thanks to our hardworking committee; to single out anyone in particular would be unfair since each one of them is invaluable and totally reliable.  I certainly could not carry out my position as President without their support.  Thank you team

I would like to move that my report be accepted.