Finding joy through choral music



In an effort to banish the Covid blues, the theme for Central Otago Regional Choir’s Arrowtown concert tonight is simply ‘joy’.

Titled ‘We Got Rhythm!’, the programme includes much-loved melodies from Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwin brothers, and John Rutter’s original carols like Jesus Child and Shepherd’s Pipe Carol.

The 34-strong choir, including about 10 Queenstown/Arrowtown singers, is being joined by up-and-coming stars, soprano Rhiannon Cooper and pianist Abhinath Berry, as part of its mission to promote young artists.

Young talent: Pianist Abhinath Berry

Cooper, who’s overcome problems with deformed vocal cords, has performed with Kiwi operatic stars Simon O’Neill and Anna Leese, while Berry placed second in the Dunedin Concerto Competition just five years after taking up the piano at the ripe old age of 15.

As a special treat, legendary Queenstown drummer Peter Doyle, the local jazz orchestra’s co-founder and band leader, is lending his beat to the jazz numbers.

‘‘He just pops the odd bit in here and there and just transforms it, we’re very lucky to have him,’’ rehearsal pianist and chorister Alison Frude says.

The choir’s being conducted by Richard Madden with Dunedin’s Sandra Crawshaw accompanying on piano.

Frude says the concert’s aiming to get people’s minds off Covid matters.

‘‘This music is so joyful all of us practising, within seconds we’re transported [away] and we go out of that [rehearsal] hall all with smiles on our faces.’’

We Got Rhythm!, Central Otago Regional Choir, Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall tonight, 7.30pm;  tickets $25 (students free) from Queenstown’s Life Wilkinsons Pharmacy, Frankton’s Summerfield’s Pharmacy and Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum