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Scholarships for young singers fosters new talent


A score of scholarships for young singers fosters new talent

The Christchurch City Choir has awarded 20 Scholarships to young singers.

Twenty young singers will be performing onstage with the Christchurch City Choir for two gala concerts in June and September after being awarded the inaugural Student Scholarships provided by the Choir to develop young talent.

The Scholarship Scheme gives them the opportunity to sing with a large symphonic choir at Opera Sacra on 12 June or The Dream of Gerontius on 13 September.

Music Director Brian Law said the students have a lot to both offer and to gain. Each student receives a $250 scholarship, and gives 6-8 weeks in rehearsal time.

“They will sing music by composers they probably wouldn’t otherwise experience. Being accompanied by a full symphony orchestra makes the music incredibly thrilling, immersing them in the unique choral soundscape. This will be a wonderful experience for the young singers,” Brian Law said.

“They will also be able to watch experienced and professional soloists in rehearsals and on the stage, and to see close-up the unique disciplines required to sing this type of choral music. The music might sound beautifully precious but there’s a lot of hard physical effort required to produce such intensity and range of emotions, and the will see how technically challenging that can be.”

Brian Law said he hoped the scholarship students in the chorus and their friends in the audience will be inspired to become involved in choirs.

“By being involved in at least one concert they will begin to experience the vast variety and excitement of “the Choral Experience” and discover it is not just the music of the older generation, but a vibrant exciting art form which they can be come involved with and learn from. I can see it already happening with this group, and they’ve made a tremendous start.”

Tenor William Warner (17) in Year 13 at Mairehau High School is the only male singer with a scholarship this year. “This is an overwhelming and amazing experience, to be working with Brian Law and having the chance to perform with famous soloists and in front of a large audience,” William said. “I’ve been soloist in school productions but this is a wonderful opportunity and will definitely make me look to include music in my future.”

Soprano Anna Howley is in Year 12 at Hornby High School, and plays the clarinet and drums. “This is a really awesome opportunity,” Anna said.” It’s not often that young people get such an opportunity and I love it. There’s so much power in the sounds we make and some parts are hard for me, especially the Latin but it’s beautiful and I absolutely love it. It’s definitely the highlight of my year.”

Soprano-alto Evangeline Breuer is in Year 10 at Christchurch Girls’ High School and like the others, was encouraged by her school music teacher. She is studying Grade Six Singing and Theory and plans to study Performance at university. “The Student Scholarship scheme is well organised and we’re going to get a lot of help and guidance from really experienced singers.”

Board member Janine Heeringa has managed the scholarship process. “We’re thrilled with the response and our expectations were exceeded by 100% with 12 singers joining the choir for Opera Sacra in June and another eight for The Dream of Gerontius in September.”

“The Christchurch City Choir Board wants to give young people a chance to experience singing in a professional setting with a symphonic choir, but more significantly, we have a desire to kindle a passion for choral music and give the students a positive, successful and lasting impression of this music.”

“Around the world choral music programmes at schools have been losing the popularity race against other forms of easier and instant entertainment, which has had an impact on the number of school leavers joining community choirs. That in turn has pushed up the average age of choirs. We want to bring back the appeal and sense of achievement that singing in a choir offers musical students."
“We realised that we would have to take the initiative in
this area and promote this very beautiful music form. If young people
are excited about what they are doing, this has a far reaching
effect. Families and friends become involved as supporters and audience members and it ripples out to affect the wider community.”
Janine Heeringa said the Board had made a long-term commitment to train young singers, and they will programme an annual scholarship concert.
“We think this gives student singers a world-class experience that is musically rewarding for them, and will provide them with invaluable professional experience they can draw on throughout their lives. Brian Law is acknowledged as an inspiring director for young singers in particular and this is something special that Christchurch students can benefit from.”
Janine Heeringa said ideally they would like more young male singers. “It’s our hope that schools, especially boys’ high schools, will encourage their young men to aspire to this music form and offer them the opportunity, through our scholarship scheme, to share in this experience.”

The Student Scholars for 2008

Sarah Cramp, Kimberley Penrose, William Warner (Mairehau High School)
Anna Howley (Hornby High School),
Elizabeth Cain, Anneliese Bougen, Sophia Grey, Amy Forsyth, Charlotte Fox, Annabel Ferguson-Phillips, Caitlin Bruce, Evangeline Breuer, Grace Gourley, Ella Vink (Christchurch Girls High School)
Alice Lee (Burnside High School)
Toni Officer (Papanui High School)
Kate Porter, Prang Rojanachotikul, Manin Mengistie (Avonside Girls High School)
Johanna English (University of Canterbury)


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