Music for the masses: Artistic director Richard Marrett will conduct The Vocal Collective for three shows in Queenstown Lakes this weekend


The Southern Lakes is set to be awash with trills and harmonies this weekend thanks to free shows by Christchurch-based choir, The Vocal Collective.

Performing in Arrowtown, Queenstown and Wānaka over Queen’s Birthday weekend, the choir hopes to bring some light to the district as it emerges from the difficulties of Covid, artistic director and conductor Richard Marrett says.

‘‘When we anticipated coming to the Southern Lakes region, we were very aware that it’s been a very depressed time for the region and the economy and so we were quite motivated to … bring some joy and relief.’’

Marrett, who has been with the choir since 2019, says bringing joy really is ‘‘the vision, the mandate of the choir’’, given the group formed after the Christchurch earthquakes to give singers a space to come together and perform.

‘‘Their performances were something that people could look forward to around town when things were all in the terrible state, and it just continued from then.’’

The 100-strong choir will be performing new material as part of its ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ tour.

Each show is a double feature, the first half a countdown of number one New Zealand hits from the past 10 years, and the second dedicated to ‘‘all Kiwi music’’, based off a programme created by Marrett called ‘The Great Kiwi Songbook’.

‘‘It kind of traces through from Blue Smoke, which is one of the earliest recorded pieces of popular music in New Zealand, right through to Don’t Forget Your Roots, plus the classics you’d expect.

‘‘[The tour] celebrates the music that’s made us, both in terms of the existence of the choir, with … a kind of tribute to the last 10 years, as well as our Kiwi roots in pop music.’’

He says the choir’s repertoire of pop and rock sets it apart as ‘‘it’s immediately accessible to everybody’’.

The Vocal Collective play Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall at 7pm on Saturday, with an outdoor performance at Queenstown Bay from 11am on Sunday, and a performance at the Lake
Wānaka Centre at 5pm on Sunday.

Free tickets via Eventbrite.