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2017 annual reports presented at the AGM held on 12 March 2018

Eric Sidoti, Music Director

2017 – come and gone! And a huge musical year for us again.

We began 2017 with one of the bigger challenges put to the choir in the last 5 years – Bruckner’s Mass No. 1. This was part of a concert that featured some pretty spectacular Mozart and Beethoven works as well, some great soloists (including our, as always, spectacular vocal award winner) and an orchestra. There were many times when I know some of you doubted we would get there, and there were others outside the Chorale who thought it was beyond our capabilities, but did we ever prove them wrong! We put on one of the best and most memorable concerts in our history in a new venue, Otaki Memorial Hall. This particular concert easily ranks in the top 5 of my all-time favourite musical moments.

This was followed by a challenge of a different sort, with the old favourite Schubert Mass No. 2, and a new introduction to Wellington (and possibly New Zealand) of Liszt’s dramatic Hungarian Coronation Mass. The contrast between these two masses was striking – one contemplative, the other obviously deeply religious at the same time as being triumphant. Excellent soloists contributed to a great performance, and it was fantastic to work with Douglas Mews again. I received a huge amount of superb feedback on this concert, but have also vowed to never do two pure masses in the same concert again. (“Let’s look at the credo now.” “Which one?”)

And to top the year off we had a very creative and energetic (if a tad bit long) set of concerts combined with the Kapiti Brass. A lot of familiar pieces, some new pieces, and a very interesting tour of parts of the choral literature I had not examined before, led us to both unique challenges and wonderfully musical moments. Certainly this session was not without a number of hiccups, and the Stroope proved harder than we thought to begin with – but after the Bruckner it was still not too big a task for this great choir.

Our work at Peter Godfrey’s Memorial service in Wellington was exemplary, even with the organ hiccup just before we came in. And I am certainly very humbled that Peter Averi has accepted the role of our new Patron.

I gave a presentation during one of our rehearsals based on the Latin workshop I did for the Manawatu Choral Federation AGM. While well received (I am thinking of doing the full workshop with you later this year), it highlighted that if we do something like that again we need some better technology in place, particular to display presentations.

The Music Programme sub-committee continues to assist in guiding us to these great concerts. Their work was instrumental in the first session. The third session, because of its unique nature, was driven by the three directors of the two groups, as well as availability. One piece we wanted to do we couldn’t because even the composer couldn’t supply music in time!

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 first and third concerts, assisting with warmups 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, Chris Robertson, Spencer Naith, and all the other formal and informal 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 plugging in sound systems to setting up chairs to finding rehearsal aids to running raffles, and so on. And, as always, a huge thank you to Ellen for everything she does.

The future continues to be bright for the Chorale, and I thank you for your faith in me to musically lead you into both familiar and unfamiliar terrain. We come together every week for the joy of making music, and as long as it continues to be a joy to us we will deliver results to the audiences who come to support us. 2018 is shaping up to be a great and interesting year as well, and I cannot wait to tell you about 2019 (but not just yet). J

 

Carol Dyer, President

Over the past month I have probably written at least 4 reports – in my head anyway, as I have thought about what needs to be said with regard to the organisation and management of Kapiti Chorale's activities during the past year.

In recent years organisation and management of the Chorale and the successful production of concerts, has become rather more onerous than in the past but I believe we have had a successful year. Challenges put up by some of the music are there to be surmounted; assistance from rehearsal aids and/or individual practice means we are able to present music of the same high standard as we have always done. We come together to sing and enjoy the music and I believe it is noticeable that in the past year in particular, there has been far less of the negativity that I know, has reared its head from time to time. We owe it to ourselves not to buy into this, but to smilingly tackle the tricky phrases and parts should they arise; every Music Director has challenged our choir with music that appears at first too difficult, but without exception, we have overcome this to present gratifying, glorious concerts. We have never, in 35 years, had an unsuccessful concert.

Combining with another group or choir adds a dimension to concerts that we all enjoy especially when it's all over, but these do involve extra meetings and for some of us, additional travel, as well as planning, financial organisation and budgeting, fine tuning of concert details and necessary publicity. One of the comments made last year by Chorale members was that we need to have more publicity and promotion of our concerts; I can assure you that this is done every concert but if reports or copy isn't published, what can we do about it? The local media will sometimes publish expensive advertisements but doesn't add further information. Competition from other entertainment options is also a problem for us. We need to be pro-active in many areas, including social media, in order to keep our choir 'out there'. There are a few who question what our 'brand' is. Most of us would be quite clear that we are an unauditioned, community choir which attracts quality singers and this is always promoted in publicity material.

Fundraising involving outside activities, as well as the raffles, has assumed much greater importance, as has the application for grants from various sources, and these contributed to our Kapiti Chorale Vocal Award costs being covered early in the year. The Award is not only greatly valued by the NZ School of Music but we love the young, talented singers who participate in our concerts.

Of concern, to both Eric and myself, is the fluctuating attendance of some choir members especially on Saturday mornings. This makes it difficult to conduct full practices and maintain the high standard upon which our reputation relies. We do appreciate that family commitments, the health problems of older age, and holidays, do impact on attendance so with this in mind, the schedule for the whole of 2018 was prepared for the choir. Hopefully, planning ahead by choir members will lessen the absence problem.

Peter Godfrey: With his passing, the Chorale lost a friend, we lost our patron and NZ lost a choral expert. Many in the Chorale joined with over 200 singers in Wellington Cathedral in a moving, musical tribute to celebrate a wonderful man. A great deal of organisation was needed to coordinate this event thanks to Peter Averi and Judy Berryman in conjunction with Wellington Cathedral.

Following a discussion about a new Patron, the committee agreed to approach Peter Averi to see if he would accept this position. We are delighted that he has accepted and welcome him here this evening.

For some years we have not had any competent reviews of our concerts, despite my best efforts to recruit someone with impeccable music credentials. It is very easy to get uninformed criticism from so-called experts. Although we are well aware of our limitations as an unauditioned, community choir, in order to make progress and advance our music abilities, we need informed reviews by mentors with excellent musical expertise. If you know of one, I'd like to hear about them.

As President, I have been supported by a wonderfully dedicated committee and if I listed all the things they are responsible for, it would take up too much of this report, but their efforts and input are very much appreciated. I would like to pay tribute to Mary Cobeldick our librarian who resigned at the end of last year, having carried out her job most efficiently and cheerfully since being elected in 2014. Mary always provided informed and valued input at meetings. More recently, Denise has decided that work pressures and the need to be in Auckland, have forced her resignation from the committee. As our Treasurer, Denise has provided a safe guiding hand with our budgets for each concerts, reasoned arguments for maintaining the cost of tickets and increasing the subscriptions, much and all as we aren't happy about the latter. Her positive outlook and ideas have kept the committee on the ball and her legal expertise has been invaluable. The 'rescue' of our new piano some years ago from a tenuous situation, is entirely due to her efforts. Denise's generosity is boundless as far as Chorale is concerned; for the past 18 months we have been exceedingly fortunate that our music has been stored in her storage lockup at her expense. Spencer has also decided to resign and we thank him for his effort with sponsorship matters and his input for the past year.

Once again we have farewelled some long-time members but welcomed several new members – Session 3 last year was notable with 5 members who have continued this year.

There are several  in the choir who provide valuable assistance in their quiet way but aren't on the committee; I won't detail their contribution but our thanks go to Janie Cook, Bronwyn Parker, Jean Corin and husband Allen, Tony Fuell, Tony Hart, Lynne Strode-Penney, Margaret Thrupp and Daphne Harding; Mark Jones and Peter Dyer for concert assistance.

Probably the two most important people in this choir are Eric our Music Director and Ellen our accompanist and sometime soloist. Our heartfelt thanks go to both of them for their individual expertise and unwavering support. Having an Assistant Music Director in Ann Marie Stapp has proved a smart move, as she brings refreshing musical exuberance and knowledge and can step into Eric's place when needed.

I would also like to acknowledge the helpful assistance from St Paul's Vicar, Archdeacon Julie Rokotakala, Becky in the office, and the Vergers, Peter and Helen. Any issues such as security or lighting, have been swiftly dealt with.

In this our 35th year, the committee is challenged to recruit new members, engage more with social media, publicity and marketing of the Chorale in order to maintain our position in the Kapiti music world. As already intimated, we need your help to do this and keep the Chorale the vibrant choir it has always been.

Carol Dyer

AGM 12 March 2018