Woodford house

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Big Sing Success

‘Beautiful tone’, ‘ambitious programme’, ‘well directed’ – these are a selection of comments from the adjudicators’ reports about our three choirs who participated in the East Coast Big Sing regional competition.


The Chapel Choir, directed by Ms Tess Tobin, and Up Close, directed by Jose Aparicio, both presented three pieces, one each in the New Zealand, European and Other sections and the Woodford Vocalists, mainly consisting of Year 9 and 10 students, sang in two sections.

The event held at the Napier Cathedral was adjudicated by Anthony Ritchie, a well-respected composer and Professor of Music at the University of Otago.

When Tess Tobin was selecting pieces to perform for Big Sing at the start of the year she chose a work by Anthony Ritchie, The Heavenly Miracle, not knowing that he would be an adjudicator. This added another layer of expectation onto the choir knowing they were going to be performing this very challenging piece to the composer. They need not have worried as the final comment read ‘a terrific performance, thank you’ and secured first prize for the New Zealand performance.

The excitement continued the following evening as the overall awards from the two days of competition were announced. The Chapel Choir was named the Big Sing NZCF Secondary Schools Choral Festival East Coast Winning Choir and Tess Tobin won the trophy as the Director of this choir.

We now anxiously await confirmation of whether the choir will be invited to the National Festival.

Mrs Josephine Carpenter, Director of Performing Arts


Three participating students were asked to describe their preparation and performances:

‘Competing with Chapel Choir in the 2016 Big Sing has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences this year. Choosing very ambitious and difficult songs, the preparation leading up to Big Sing was intense and at times stressful. However, the many, many hours of sometimes monotonous practice in the Chapel definitely paid off, allowing us to sing our songs confidently and with expression. Our three songs, Gaudeamus Hodie by Earlene Rentz, the Heavenly Miracle by Anthony Ritchie and Dreamtime Land by Stephen Leek showcased our strengths and versatility, and were songs the choir very much enjoyed singing.’

Susannah Hansen, Year 12

‘Attending the Big Sing competition as student head of the 2016 Up Close A Capella Chorus was incredibly gratifying. Experimenting with a uniquely challenging repertoire with a group of both new and experienced choristers required team-work and perseverance. Directed and conducted by José Aparicio, our competition performance is one we take immense pride in and cannot wait to build on in the years ahead.’

Annah Knowles, Year 12

‘Three words to describe the Big Sing could be: extraordinary, terrifying and beautiful. I was a member of the Junior Choir and we sang two songs, Truly Brave and Deo Dicamus. We practised long and hard and we sounded amazing. We had a whole lot of fun; singing, hanging out with friends and listening to some amazing talent. Woodford can be very proud of themselves. The Big Sing is an experience that everyone should take part in at least once in their lives.’

Jessica Hansen, Year 10