THE CHRISTCHURCH CITY CHOIR SCHOLARSHIPS
The Scholarship Scheme started in 2008 and gives high school and university students the opportunity to sing with a large symphonic choir. Music Director Brian Law said the students have a lot to both offer and to gain. Each student receives a $250 scholarship, and gives 6-8 weeks in rehearsal time. “They sing music by composers they probably wouldn’t otherwise experience. Being accompanied by a full symphony orchestra makes the music incredibly thrilling, immersing them in the unique choral soundscape. This is a wonderful experience for the young singers,” Brian Law said.
“They are also able to watch experienced and professional soloists in rehearsals and on the stage, and to see close-up the unique disciplines required to sing this type of choral music. The music might sound beautifully precious but there’s a lot of hard physical effort required to produce such intensity and range of emotions, and they will see how technically challenging that can be.”
Brian Law said he hoped the scholarship students in the choir and their friends in the audience will be inspired to join choirs. “By being involved in at least one concert they will begin to experience the vast variety and excitement of 'the choral experience' and discover it is not just the music of the older generation, but a vibrant exciting art form which they can engage in and learn from.”
Board member Janine Heeringa has managed the scholarship process. “We’re thrilled with the response over the past four years. The Christchurch City Choir board wants to give young people a chance to experience singing in a professional setting with a symphonic choir, but more significantly, we have a desire to kindle a passion for choral music and give the students a positive, successful and lasting impression of this music. Around the world choral music has been losing the popularity race against other forms of easier and instant entertainment, which has had an impact on the number of school leavers joining community choirs. That in turn has pushed up the average age of choirs. We want to bring back the appeal and sense of achievement that singing in a choir offers musical students. We realised that we would have to take the initiative in this area and promote this very beautiful music form. If young people are excited about what they are doing, this has a far reaching effect. Families and friends become involved as supporters and audience members and it ripples out to affect the wider community.”
Janine Heeringa said the board had made a long-term commitment to train young singers. “We think this gives student singers a world-class experience that is musically rewarding for them, and will provide them with invaluable professional experience they can draw on throughout their lives. Brian Law is acknowledged as an inspiring director for young singers in particular and this is something special that Christchurch students can benefit from.”
Due to the earthquakes suffered in Christchurch over the last two years, our scholarship programming has been affected by people displacement and lack of venues. Hopefully we will resume this scheme in 2014 with a bunch of fresh faces eager to take on the challenge.