Top voice re­turn­ing to Whanga¯rei

Whangarei Report - - NEWS -

When the New Zealand Youth Choir plays in Whanga¯ rei next month, there’ll be a fa­mil­iar voice: so­prano Rhi­an­non Cooper.

Cooper is ex­cited to re­turn home to Whanga¯ rei with the pres­ti­gious choir when it plays at Christ Church at the Re­gent on Jan­u­ary 31.

Af­ter at­tend­ing Kamo High School, Cooper moved to Dunedin to study a Bach­e­lor of Mu­sic in clas­si­cal voice at the Univer­sity of Otago. She per­formed with Oper­a­north for nine years as a so­prano.

She joined the na­tional choir in 2017, her first since her time with lo­cal group Oper­a­north.

Cooper cred­its en­cour­age­ment from her men­tor, the late Joan Ken­n­away, with giv­ing her the courage to au­di­tion, and for her first big solo at Opera in the Gar­den in front of an au­di­ence of sev­eral hun­dred.

“I first thought there was no way I was singing alone in front of that many peo­ple, but Joanie just raised an eye­brow and said ‘you’ll be fine’ and I was.”

Now she’s one of 50 na­tion­ally au­di­tioned singers be­tween the ages of 18 to 25 to have been se­lected to rep­re­sent New Zealand. The choir is per­form­ing at Christ Church at the Re­gent for the first time as part of its Sum­mer Tour.

The choir’s tro­phy cab­i­net at head­quar­ters is full to the brim and in­cludes the “world cup” of cho­ral singing, the Choir of the World tro­phy won in 1999 in Wales.

Mu­sic di­rec­tor David Squire is ex­cited about the visit to North­land.

“Our cur­rent reper­toire con­sists of mu­sic be­ing pre­pared for our Pasi­fika tour at the end of the year, so there’s a range of mu­sic from Aotearoa and our neigh­bours, as well as some of the clas­sics.”

Whanga¯ rei is the first step on the road to the Pa­cific, where the choir will per­form in six coun­tries, in­clud­ing Samoa, Tonga and Aus­tralia.

The 50 singer­sare se­lected from all over the coun­try. The choir has achieved con­sid­er­able suc­cess since its for­ma­tion in 1979. Per­for­mances in New Zealand and 11 in­ter­na­tional tours in­clud­ing vis­its to the UK, Europe, Canada, US, Aus­tralia, Sin­ga­pore, Rus­sia, the Repub­lic of Ko­rea and China have es­tab­lished its rep­u­ta­tion for con­sis­tency, en­ergy and ex­cel­lence.

Whanga¯ rei so­prano Rhi­an­non Cooper, right, is ex­cited to re­turn home with the pres­ti­gious New Zealand Youth Choir for a con­cert in Jan­u­ary.

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