Mar­i­lyn leaves on high note

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

Just try and keep Mar­i­lyn Baigent away.

The head of Aotea Col­lege’s mu­sic depart­ment for 34 years, Baigent had more than her fair share of farewells in the past fort­night af­ter she an­nounced last month that it was time to re­tire.

‘‘I came here in 1981, af­ter three and a half years teach­ing mu­sic and English in Lon­don,’’ she re­called.

‘‘I grew up in Ti­tahi Bay and al­though I’d taught else­where in New Zealand, be­ing of­fered the head of depart­ment job here was just bril­liant.’’

In­spired by her work in Lon­don, Baigent es­tab­lished the choir and bar­ber­shop pro­gramme that put Aotea on the mu­si­cal map. Na­tional awards have flowed into the school and Agent Baigent or Queen B has been at the fore­front of it all.

Her part­ner­ship with tu­tor and bar­ber­shop di­rec­tor David Brooks has been a fruit­ful one, but it is hard to tie Baigent down for a par­tic­u­lar high­light.

‘‘There have been so many high­lights. The team­work we have here at Aotea, the con­nec­tions with the com­mu­nity, and work­ing with th­ese won­der­ful young peo­ple, see­ing them be­come so con­fi­dent – that has been the real re­wards. The stu­dents have al­ways in­spired me with their cre­ative en­ergy.’’

One oc­ca­sion that does stick in her mem­ory is the per­for­mance of Malaga at Te Rau­paraha Arena in 2009. It bought three schools to­gether and Baigent said the sup­port of the Aotea Col­lege board of trus­tees, who gave the green light to the $100,000 pro­duc­tion, was cru­cial.

Stu­dent Anas­ta­sia Seu­manutafa said Baigent pushed them to suc­ceed and was there with en­cour­age­ment, makeup and food at key mo­ments dur­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

‘‘She would pick us up from home and you could have heartto-heart talks with her – she was more than a teacher,’’ she said.

Brooks said Baigent’s ab­sence would be keenly felt, both pro­fes­sion­ally and in giv­ing the mu­sic depart­ment an invit­ing, fam­ily feel.

‘‘Mar­i­lyn made things hap­pen,’’ he said. ‘‘If she sees some­thing as valu­able, she will pursue it, work­ing well be­yond the 9am-3pm school hours.’’

Aotea Col­lege prin­ci­pal Kate Gains­ford said usu­ally about 10 per cent of the school’s stu­dents were in­volved in mu­sic and Baigent’s abil­ity to con­nect with them was out­stand­ing. The past few weeks have seen mes­sages com­ing in from all over the coun­try, and the world, to ac­knowl­edge Baigent’s de­par­ture, Gains­ford said.

‘‘Her com­mit­ment in walk­ing along­side and sup­port­ing her stu­dents is amaz­ing,’’ she said. ‘‘There’s no doubt Porirua and the arts com­mu­nity have ben­e­fited from her un­ceas­ing com­mit­ment to th­ese tal­ented young peo­ple.’’

Baigent said this is not good­bye. She is look­ing for­ward to trav­el­ling, es­pe­cially back to Lon­don, and be­com­ing a grand­mother for the first time in May.

‘‘I’ll be around, you can’t just switch it all off af­ter this many years. I’m avail­able when they [Aotea] need me and I want to stay in­volved in the amaz­ing mu­sic com­mu­nity in Porirua.’’

She said the planned per­form­ing arts cen­tre at the col­lege would be a boun­ti­ful fa­cil­ity for Aotea Col­lege and Porirua as a whole, and she would be there on open­ing night.

Mar­i­lyn Baigent in an oft-seen spot in Aotea Col­lege’s mu­sic depart­ment – at the pi­ano. With her are stu­dents, from left, Melissa Bai­ley, Anas­ta­sia Seu­manutafa, Seta Leasi and Juanita Leynes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.