Past, Present & Future
ABOUT SOUTH AUCKLAND CHORAL
The SOUTH AUCKLAND CHORAL (SAC) is a talented choir from the greater Auckland area. Since first coming together in 1975, this group of singers has developed a cohesive and creative performance style.
The SAC is a four part choir that meets weekly to rehearse on Tuesday evenings from 7.15 pm for a 7.30 pm start in Crossroads Methodist Church, Broadway, Papakura. Three concerts are usually performed each year, with guest soloists and conductors.
Singers come from a wide area - from Auckland through to Te Kauwhata in the south and coast-to-coast from Waiuku across to Clevedon. Young and old enjoy singing together under the leadership of inspirational young Musical Director, Denzel Panama. The range of music presented includes the well-known oratorios, both serious and light classical work through to edgy contemporary and light pop.
Numbers vary from 20-50 singers, depending on the work being rehearsed and (it has to be confessed) the winter weather! During the past 30 years over 110 programmes have been presented in centres as far apart as Whangarei and Napier.
New members are always welcome. The choir provides encouraging support to 'first-timers' with warm-up and voice training sessions led by Denzel and a strong focus on 'note learning' for those who don't read music.
A Creative Ensemble
Choral music has a long and varied history in Papakura. The Papakura Music Society, first established in the 1930s, at the time when the town boasted a population of around 2000. It was reformed in 1953 (after a lapse of many years). This group flourished with overflowing audiences. A newspaper report of the concert of 3 November 1965 states that nearly 900 people packed the High School Hall to hear young soloist Kiri Te Kanawa after her recent Mobil Song Quest success. However, the choir's popularity was short-lived as a result of the impact of newly arrived television. The choir went into recess in 1967, not to re-emerge until 1974.
By the early 1970s, the Papakura population had grown to around 20 000, which qualified it for city status, a milestone worthy of many celebrations. A City Celebrations committee was formed, and the convener (the late Cliff Churchill, editor of The News Advertiser, now The Courier) asked local resident Lorna Clauson to form a cultural committee and present a programme of cultural events throughout 1975. Chief among these would be musical occasions. A local choral enthusiast, Frank Harnett, told Lorna to "Get a choir together and sing something!" This was only made possible by the willingness of various church singers to join in. Crossroads Methodist Church Trustees kindly made their premises available, and in October 1974, the Papakura City Festival Choral Group held its first rehearsal of "St John Passion" by J S Bach. The choir performed on Palm Sunday, 23 March 1975 to a packed Crossroads Church and critical acclaim in the NZ Herald. The choral spark had been re-ignited in Papakura. In November of the same year, the follow-up concert was appropriately Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and the South Auckland Music Society was established, with Grant Peterson, one of our current bass singers, its first president.
The formation of the Papakura Civic Orchestra in 1976 was to prove another significant advance in the local music scene, and during the next few years, the choir and orchestra worked together to present many delightful family concerts in Crossroads, where the choir still meets every week.
Winston King led the choir for the next three years, and after his resignation, the SAC choir invited guest conductors to take the many concerts performed both locally and further afield. These included the well-known organist Bill Power, Juan Matteucci, Hugh Dixon, Dr Douglas Mews (all sadly now deceased), Peter Watts, who also led Auckland Choral for many years, Bill Chessum, and John Buchanan, who led the choir for several years before leaving for the South Island.
The Choral Society has performed a wide variety of music, including Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, The Easter Oratorio, Elijah, The Messiah, and several Bach's Passions.