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2014 annual reports presented at the AGM held on 9 March 2015

Eric Sidoti, Music Director

I am very pleased to be able to present my first annual report, although it certainly feels as though I have been here longer than a year – wait, I have!  3 concerts, part of this session, and all the planning before the first session in 2014, but I was still very new to the choir when the last AGM was held, and was not required to give an annual report then.  And I had some large shoes to fill following Peter, Marie and Stuart.

Upon assuming my duties as your musical director, I was first tasked with figuring out how to manage 4 choirs simultaneously, as I needed to do for the first session.  After some deep thinking the idea occurred to me that perhaps 3 of those choirs could combine for a truly memorable experience – and we did.  The first session with the Chorale was one where we performed John Stainer’s The Crucifixion, an intensely personal religious work, and did so with the choirs of both Wainuiomata and St John’s in the City.  We performed this work three times – at St James in Lower Hutt, and St John’s in Wellington for Good Friday, and then finally here in Paraparaumu.  Each time got better, and the church here was sold out for the last performance.

Besides the Stainer we also performed a selection of other English romantics, all of whom had a direct connection to Stainer himself.  I notice that the Sullivan piece that we did, I Will Mention Thy Loving Kindnesses, is up onto You-Tube as the only recording of its kind. Thank you to whomever posted it for us – along with the other works from that concert.  Also a special thanks to our soloists – Peter Dyne and Simon Christie – and to our organists – Richard Apperley and David Trott – as well as to the outstanding string quartet organised by St John’s Musical Director Eleanor Carter.

In conjunction with rehearsals and getting to know the committee, I also offered a series of ‘Meet Eric’ sessions, where I would sit down with a small group of you and find out a little about each of you – and answer any questions you posed of me.  I gave everyone a survey to fill out too – to try to gauge what the choir as a whole liked and didn’t like.  It took me nearly a year to get the results back to you, but I doubt the results were a surprise to anyone – most everyone here likes classical music first and foremost.

Working with the Committee 

I also established a music programme committee.  This small group of 4 to 5 individuals meets once or twice a year and serves as both brainstorming and sanity check all rolled into one.  The power of multiple minds in devising programmes makes for better concerts. Thank you to those who served on this committee in the first year – Ellen Barrett, Ross Wards, Peter Averi and Carol Dyer.  They were instrumental in getting both the second session’s concert put together as well as the World War One Commemoration programme we are currently working on.

The second session, Knights and Dragons, certainly challenged the choir in a number of different ways.  We had some excellent soloists with Katherine McIndoe, our scholarship award winner, William McElwee, and Justin Pearce, as well as Ellen on piano and Douglas Mews on organ.  While Elgar’s The Black Knight was a daunting piece for the choir, we indeed rose to the occasion and delivered a performance that Elgar himself would have been proud of.  The Reluctant Dragon, an incredible crowd pleaser, actually proved a bit harder as it was in a style the choir is not accustomed to.  It was, however, an incredible amount of fun for us to rehearse and perform – a point certainly noted by people in the audience who said we were a ‘happy’ choir.

The third session was a challenge in yet another way.  Early in 2013 it was decided between the Chamber Choir, the Chorale, and the Concert Orchestra that we would all come together to deliver a joint performance in honour of the KCO’s 10th anniversary.  A number of logistical challenges had to be met, not least of which was agreeing the programme itself – KCO centric but with enough meat for both choirs to sustain an entire session.  The headline act of the concert was the Grieg piano concerto performed by the KCO and Michael Houstoun, but the big works for us were the Vaughan-Williams Fantasia and the New Zealand premiere of Randall Stroope’s Lamentations of Jeremiah, which proved the second most intense talking point amongst the audience after Mr. Houstoun.  We had to travel for this one, doing our premiere concert in Nga Purapura (with a sold out crowd of 800) in Otaki, a venue which we will see again in the future.

I did a radio interview for our first concert, and also did a newspaper interview as well.  I have represented the choir at several NZCF events that take place throughout the year, and worked hard to put the choir’s name very prominently through the choral grapevine of Wellington.  It has become a running joke now at NZCF events that when a choral vacancy appears people immediately think of me to take over.  Not going to happen again for a long time – my plate is very full, thank you.

We also established a joint policy with the Chamber Choir where members of each choir could come and sing with the other choir for 1 session each year if the work appealed to them and there was room for them.  This was used once last year, and will also be used again this year – giving everyone in both choirs more opportunities to sing if they choose to pursue them.

I want to express my deep thanks to Andrew Thompson-Davies and Janie Cook, who were the leaders of the choir when I assumed the role.  They made the transition into my position very smooth, and answered numerous questions I threw at them.  I am also deeply indebted to everyone on the current committee, especially Ruth for her seamless transition into the Secretary role, and to Mary for following Ruth’s footsteps into the Librarian role – a key position and one that does not get enough recognition.  And thanks to everyone who helps with the set up of the rehearsal and concert halls – Kim for her leadership and everyone  There are many roles that are filled, and my thanks go to each of you who do them – tickets, programmes, publicity, membership, archivist – and to all who share their opinions whether we want to hear them or not.  Every opinion is a valuable one, so keep them coming.

And certainly I cannot fail to mention thanks to Ellen for everything she does.  She is the rock upon which the I feel very privileged to be here working with all of you.  We did some great things in 2014, and had a lot of fun in the process.  I have no doubt that we will improve even more and continue to do great things this year and in the years to come.  This is only the beginning – again.

 

 

Isabel Robertson, President

A Brave New World

The flavour of 2014 for the Kapiti Chorale was embracing change but still striving to enjoy our singing and provide great concerts as part of the Kapiti Coast’s vibrant arts calendar. 

2014 was the first year with our new music director Eric Sidoti.  We spent the year getting to know each other with some members of the choir taking the opportunity to accept Eric’s invitation of ‘meet and greet’ sessions before Monday rehearsals, not only so that they could find out more about what makes Eric tick but so that he could get to know about them as well.

Eric planned concert programmes that incorporated music that was both familiar and new to the choir.  The second session in particular provided a wide of range of repertoire that made a real connection with our loyal audience.  The concerts for 2014 also provided opportunities to collaborate with other musical organisations and in new venues.  The first session involved road trips to Lower Hutt and Wellington to sing Stainer’s Crucifixion with the Wainuiomata Choir.  The final session was a music extravaganza - a joint concert at Otaki’s Nga Purapura venue with the Kapiti Chamber Choir and the Kapiti Concert Orchestra to celebrate the 10th was the performance of Michael Houstoun, playing Greig’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and his beautiful encore of one of the Bach preludes.  Singing to an audience of nearly 800 people was also something we don’t get to do very often.

Farewells

As well as welcoming nine new singers over 2014 and the beginning of 2015, we had to say goodbye to former President Andrew Thompson Davies from the choir and former Secretary Janie Cook from the committee although she continued organize the sale of tickets for 2014.

One of our long-standing members of the choir, soprano Mattie Smith, had to withdraw from the choir for health reasons.  A presentation was made to Mattie to acknowledge her long association and contribution to the Chorale and to say that she would be missed.

Anniversary Book

It was with great pleasure and relief to see the publication of the book The Kapiti Chorale: the first thirty years at the end of 2014.  It celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the Chorale in 2013.  The enormous project was managed by Carol Dyer with extensive editorial help from Vivien Adams and supported by Elaine Jones and Mary Cobledick in particular.

The book was launched on 11 December 2014 and included the announcement of the 2014 Kapiti Choral Vocal Award, soprano Olivia Sheat.  Olivia will be singing with the Chorale as part of the World War One Commemoration concert in May 2015.

Social activities

There were also occasions to enjoy each other’s company as well as singing.  A movie night was organised which raised $200.  There was a shared lunch after one of the Saturday morning rehearsals.  This was enlivened by a visit from Marie Brown (former music director and one of the Chorale’s life members).  Marie also showed the gathering her medal as she had received a Queen’s Birthday honour in 2014 becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music.

Concert venues

The Kapiti Chamber Choir invited representatives from the Chorale to join them in visiting potential concert venues around Paraparaumu and Waikanae.  This was an opportunity for
both Eric and the Chorale to see what is currently available.

I and Ruth Barrett also attended a meeting called by Tony Kane, the principal of Kapiti College, with local music and theatre groups to talk about the architectural plans for the college’s new Performing Arts Centre so he could get feedback on whether it’s going in the right direction.  This looks like a very exciting proposition and will be an asset to the local arts community

The joint concert in December 2014 with the Kapiti concert orchestra provided an opportunity to experience a new concert venue, Nga Purapura at Otaki. There were some issues with the venue’s facilities but overall it seemed a positive experience.

In conclusion I would like to thank the committee for all their hard work throughout the year; Eric, for introducing us to another way of being the Kapiti Chorale and especially Ellen who continues to accompany us so eloquently.

I’d also like to thank Ruth for stepping up with such grace and competence as the 2014 Kapiti Chorale Secretary.  2014 has been a most interesting year.


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