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NZCFS members’ local choir off to Beijing

HBC Singers fundraising at Whangaparaoa Lions
HBC Singers fundraising at Whangaparaoa Lions

Two of the NZCFS Hibiscus Coast branch members, Duncan and Teri France, are also in their local choir ‘The Hibiscus Coast Singers‘, who will soon be off to Beijing for an International Choral Festival.

At their pre-Christmas concert, 2011, the Hibiscus Coast Singers performed the Chinese folk song ‘Molihua’ (Beautiful Jasmine) – the most popular Chinese folksong.  We had invited the Chinese guzheng player, Yao Chen Xiyao, the second best in China (who has played at several Society Conferences), to accompany us and also play a selection of Chinese pieces both traditional and modern.  The audience fell in love with him and he was a sensation!  We had invited the Chinese Cultural Consul, Mme Long Yanping, but didn’t really expect her to attend.  Imagine our surprise when she attended and then, after the concert, called us over to congratulate us on such a perfect rendition and also our pronunciation of the Chinese!  Even more surprising were her next words, “Would you like to enter the 11th International China Choral Festival in Beijing next July”?   Well, we went into the greenroom where the choir were changing and we dropped the bombshell.  It was certainly received with enthusiasm. 

HBC Singers (and NZCFS members) Duncan & Teri France fundraising
HBC Singers (and NZCFS members) Duncan & Teri France fundraising

Two thirds of the choir eventually said they would go and we set about fundraising and devising many ways to raise money.  After almost six months of manning local market stalls, running raffles, arranging concerts around the district, organising a pre-release Film Show [‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’] and a Trivial Pursuit night, the choir are almost on their way.  We have raised $NZ 25,000 and this has been matched by a kind Chinese businessman who wished us luck and said the he “wanted to ensure that we go” – what luck!  We have one more concert to perform on 8th July by which time the final budget will be reached.  It will be a Grand Variety Concert at Orewa College, 2.30pm, with many local guest artists included soloists, the Westlake Girls High School string quartet, the Showstoppers (a comedy group) and, of course, the choir who will sing their competition pieces. 

The Beijing Festival will be attended by 150 other choirs from around the World.  We are entered in the Over-50 Mixed Choir class of the competition, though two are under 50 (within the 8% allowed). 

The choir has 33 members, comprising 13 sopranos, 8 altos, 6 tenors 6 basses.  Our group will also comprise 5 supporters and Yao, who will be an additional guide in Beijing.

Our competition slot will be 15 minutes.  Our repertoire will be ‘Molihua’, ‘Springtime Mantleth every Bough’ and ‘Hine e Hine’, with the latter two sung a cappella.  

We will also be entertaining the people in parks and schools in Beijing, when we will sing, ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Skye Boat Song’ (both Bob Chilcott arrangements, who will give a talk at his Masterclass in Beijing)  and ‘Early One Morning’,  accompanied by Yao on the piano/keyboard,. 

In addition to several concerts by large world-class choirs, we will be able to see some of the Beijing sights: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.  The Festival lasts six days and a number of the group will be staying on in China.

We were also invited to apply to participate in a concert in Inner Mongolia but were beaten at the post by a large choir from Zimbabwe who will sing the very patriotic song ‘Yellow River Cantata’….  We also were invited to another concert in Xi’an, organised by CCTV but had to turn it down because of travel/time constraints.

We have had excellent singing tuition from Helga Jurgeleit-Golding, an ex-operatic singer, and our conductor will be Barry Golding who has spent many years in Australia and Europe, conducting, accompanying and playing for many well-known artists.   Note that our usual Musical Director, Norman Firth, was unavailable.

Our last fund-raising Grand Variety Show should be a resounding success, as have all our other activities, and we expect some VIPs to attend as well.  Tickets at $15, with under-12s free, are obtainable from Teri France, 09-428-5623.

Teri France, Jun, 2012