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Our History

Kāpiti Chorale - The First Thirty Years

While we present below some information about those who have guided and developed the Kāpiti Chorale since its foundation, you might also like to read the full history.

This interesting book, published by the Kāpiti Chorale in December 2014 has received many compliments from members and past members, supporters and musicians.

Copies are available from archivist@kapitichorale.org.nz or phone 0636 76488, price NZD $25.00 (plus $6.50 p&p).

The Beginnings - 1983 - Waikanae Chorale - Lois McNeill

Twenty singers gathered in St. Patrick's Catholic Church hall in Waikanae on a humid October night in 1983 for their first concert.  Conductor Lois McNeill, accompanists Helen Stevenson and Elaine Smith, and her Waikanae Chorale prepared to sing their songs from Elgar and Bernstein.  Lois's dedication and enterprise founded a choir in March 1983 that has gone on to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2013. 

In the 1950s and 60s there was a Kāpiti Choral Society, and in 1988 there were three choirs on the Coast: the Waikanae Chorale, the Harmony Chorale directed by Elizabeth Giles and the Ecumenical Choir directed by John Benson.  Only the Waikanae Chorale has survived.  In 1989 it became the Kāpiti Coast Chorale, then in 1994 the Kāpiti Chorale, one of the largest choirs on the Kāpiti Coast with up to 100 voices at times.  Many members have been with the choir for 20 years or more, one singer since 1983.

The choir has sung in cathedrals, village halls, a pub, the Wellington Botanic and other lovely gardens, Southwards Dell, churches, school auditoriums, shopping malls and at funerals and weddings.  It has given pleasure to audiences with more than 90 concerts, and looks forward to being an important part of the Kāpiti Coast's musical life for many years to come.

1994 - 2004: Peter Godfrey, Patron to 2017

Peter, a world-acknowledged choral director, retired to the Kāpiti Coast after a lifetime of choral work.  His 'retirement' lasted a very short time as he promptly set up the Kāpiti Chamber Choir and soon after accepted the Music Directorship of the Kāpiti Chorale.  He broadened the Chorale's repertoire to include a range of 'great works'. Having celebrated his 95th birthday in April 2017, he continued to support the Chorale until his death in 2017.

With Peter's support, Lois initiated the tradition of the bi-annual Community Choir.  This gave many Kāpiti residents the opportunity to sing major choral works they had always enjoyed listening to.  While the core of the Community Choir was the Kāpiti Chorale and Kāpiti Chamber Choir, all-comers were invited: "If you have ever wanted to sing Handel's Messiah come along and join us", said the posters.  And so they did, with varying degrees of musical ability, but always with huge dedication and enthusiasm.

Guest Conductor: Stuart Douglas

In 2004 Stuart Douglas became the Chorale's Guest Director, preparing the choir for three concert sessions.  Stuart is still a valued friend of the Chorale.  He later was appointed guest Music Director of the Kāpiti Chamber Choir.  As well as choral conducting, Stuart has also conducted the Wellington Chamber Orchestra, the Wellington Schools Symphonic Band and the Hutt Valley Concert Orchestra.  He was again Guest Conductor for the Chorale's Messiah performance at the end of 2013. 

2005 - August 2013:  Marie Brown

The next Music Director was part-time Kāpiti Coast resident, Marie Brown, in whose hands the choir continued to develop.  With her, the choir successfully met ever greater challenges and was introduced to many new exciting works such as Jenkins' The Armed Man

Marie is also a pianist, for many years playing at St Brigid's in Wadestown and for the Saturday night music group at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.  Her Master of Philosophy degree is in Violoncello performance and her name can be found as 'cellist' on past programmes of Kāpiti Chorale performances with orchestra.  She was a Director on the Board of the NZSO.  Marie resigned from the Chorale when she moved to Auckland, but she has since returned to Wellington.

2014 - to date: Eric Sidoti

In October 2013, Eric was appointed Kāpiti Chorale Music Director to start in 2014.  A Porirua resident, Eric was Music Director of the Wainuiomata Choir (a role he relinquished to join us), and also the Music Director of the Kāpiti Chamber Choir.  He is Music Director of the biennial Hutt Valley Gang Show, Choir Conductor of St John's in the City, and founding Music Director for Voices in the Wind (launched in 2019).

Peter Averi and Ellen Barrett

Throughout the years two people have been stalwart supporters of the Chorale.  Organist Peter Averi played in almost all the choir's concerts up to 2015, was Guest Conductor of a concert in 2000, and in 2011 was accompanist for the choir's filming of TV1's Praise Be.  Peter is a loyal advocate and his contribution to the Chorale was celebrated in a Tribute Concert in May 2013.   He accepted the position of Patron in December 2017.

Musician and soloist Ellen Barrett has also been deeply involved with the choir.  Originally a singer in one of Lois' first concerts, she has been rehearsal pianist for many years, and is frequently a soloist in our concerts. 

Both Ellen and Peter are members of the Music Selection Committee.

Peter Godfrey, Peter Averi, and Ellen Barrett were awarded Life Members of the Kāpiti Chorale in 2008, and Marie Brown in 2013.  See details of 
Life Members.

Kāpiti Chorale Award in Vocal Performance

To encourage talent in young performers and future soloists, in 2008 the Kāpiti Chorale inaugurated an annual award in vocal performance for a second-year student at The New Zealand School of Music.  The choir is enthusiastic in its support of young singers, and the lift which the acknowledgement brings to a student during the difficult second year is rewarding.  See details of our 
award recipients.