Top voice returning to Whanga¯rei
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.