Wellington Community Choir

10th Birthday Concert

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Celebrating Ten Years of Singing People Together

Wellington Community Choir turns ten this year, and we're putting on our biggest, boldest, most exciting concert yet!

Please help us host a night to celebrate community singing at the Michael Fowler Centre.

We are Wellington's friendliest, liveliest choir, focused on making singing accessible to all, and creating a spirit of community through our singing.  We welcome people of all ages, genders, nationalities and singing experience to our Wednesday night rehearsals.

Starting with 35 singers in 2005, we now have over 200 regular attendees. Over the last 10 years we have performed around New Zealand, supporting local events and organisations, and inspiring other groups within the region to set up their own community choirs.

This year we are celebrating our time together and have invited all current and past singers, plus singers from the region's community choirs, plus guest musicians to take part in our biggest concert yet.

On Saturday 29 August 2015, the Wellington Community Choir will host our Celebrating Ten Years of Singing People Together concert at the Michael Fowler Centre - Wellington's premiere concert venue.

Please watch our video and make a donation towards the cost of putting on an event of this size.

Tickets to the concert will be available from Ticketek and choir members from July 2015.

To find out more about the Wellington Community Choir, check out: www.wellingtoncommunitychoir.org.nz

Thank you for watching!




    The Wellington Community Choir will now present an exciting concert in Wellington's premiere venue on August the 29th.

    Your donations have helped make this possible and all those participating are most appreciative.

    Singers, musicians, those on stage and those back stage along with choirs from around the region join in thanking everyone for so much support.

    Please come to the Michael Fowler Centre on the night and be part of the way we 'Sing People Together'

    Thank you, again .......




  • Helping us raise the roof of the Michael Fowler Center


    Just a few days to go to donate and support this unique musical event which promises to be amazing!

    Thank you to all the donors who have already supported us so generously.

    We offer our music to lift your spirits on Saturday August the 29th at 7.0.pm.

    Tickets from Ticketek and Wellington Community Choir members.

    The Wellington choir welcomes participating choirs, musicians, supporters and a lively audience as we 'Sing People Together" in our tenth birthday celebration.


    Helping us raise the roof  of the Michael Fowler Center
  • Wellington Community Choir ‘10 Years of Singing and Growing’




    Ralph Gracie, Secretary/Treasurer writes: "The Wellington Community Choir began 10 years ago in 2005, with 38 singers. Five years later we celebrated our birthday with a sell-out concert and 247 singers were on stage at the Wellington Town Hall. This year 229 singers attended a special practice night to mark our 10th birthday.

    Since we started keeping records nine years ago a total of 2,630 individuals have sung with us and we've had 349 rehearsals!

    The statistics tell the story:

    • 142 singers have been to 50-99 rehearsals
    • 84 singers have been to 100-199 rehearsals
    • 35 singers have been to over 200 rehearsals.
    • Currently, we have about 230 singers who regularly attend our Wednesday night rehearsals at Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre.

    During 10 years of singing as a community we have supported many local and regional entities and events including: the Families Commission, Wellington Climate Change Festival, Cuba Street Carnival, World Peace Summit, Wellington and Wakefield Hospitals' Ministry, Fair Trade Day, Volunteer Awareness Week, Hutt Valley Singers 75th Anniversary, Wellington City Housing Design Workshop, Refugee Services Community Picnic, World Music in Nelson, Newtown Festivals, May Day Concerts, 'A Taste of Africa', 'All Our Neighbours' (Tsunami Relief for Samoa), Rugby World Cup events, 'The Big Bang' (NZ Festival), The Rugby Fan Zone, 'Singfest' 'Sing around Te Papa' and the 'CubaDupa' Festival. We have also presented nine annual concerts. Our 10th celebration concert is next month on August the 29th, 2015!"

    RG Ralph 



    The updates below are full of fascinating information about people, choirs, musicians and community connections. If you are not already in a choir you will read how easy it is to join ....



    The Martinborough Community Choir was established about two and a half years ago by Victoria Jones. They are a Soprano, Tenor, Alto, Bass ‘a cappella’ choir, singing a wide variety of songs from many genres. There are no auditions and no experience is required. A mix of all ages and abilities meet together and the only prerequisite is a love of group singing.
    They have performed regularly at various local events but their most exciting gig will certainly be the one at the Michael Fowler Centre with so many great community choirs helping the Wellington Community Choir celebrate its first decade.

    The Carterton Community Choir was established in April 2015 after a highly successful gospel singing workshop held in the small Wairarapa town. Led by Martinborough musician and music teacher Vicki Jones, the choir meets weekly to enjoy singing together and has members from all over the Wairarapa. This choir is growing and looking forward to the grand concert on August 29th with the Wellington Community Choir.


    Photo: The Martinborough Community Choir



    The Hawkes Bay Community Choir was formed four years ago following a workshop led by Julian Raphael and Carol Shortis. Song leader Chelsea Savaiinaea has been with the choir since day one, and has recently been joined by Tevivi Daniel. A concert in the Napier Municipal Theatre singing alongside the Wellington Community Choir was very well received. The choir repertoire is varied, with the main criteria being “something we love to sing”. Songs are sourced from world music, waiata, chants, old English rounds and arrangements of recent popular music. The Wellington Community Choir welcomes Hawkes Bay Community Choir along with other choirs whose members are travelling to take part in this exciting occasion.



    Ralph Gracie, Secretary/Treasurer with the Wellington Community Choir writes: "As a male, I have since puberty had it that I could not sing. For me, that was the truth! At weddings and funerals I would be at the rear, virtually mumbling the tune, afraid of 'singing up' lest I be heard and put others off. That is until I decided to re-kindle my love of singing during primary school and took the plunge to join this choir at its inception, 10 years ago. My participation in this choir has shattered the "I can't sing" illusion - falsely held for far too many years.

    I now sing - often in the front row of the basses, supporting my singing by tuning in with the others around me. In turn I provide reciprocal support to others.
    In preparation for scribing this note I jotted down a few key thoughts of what this choir means to me. I wrote: 'Proud', 'Friendship', 'Sharing', 'Humour', 'Emotion', 'Love', 'Community', 'Engagement', 'Harmony', 'Willingness', 'Acceptance', 'Diversity leading to unity', "Colourful', 'Teamwork', 'Tolerance', and even 'World Peace' (as a possibility).

    Singing in this choir is risk-free and affirmations abound. We sing with heads held high (no music scores to read) and thereby make connection with each other and with our audience, especially when performing in public. On occasions I have to say I get so hooked by the spontaneous emotional reaction of our audience I have to stop singing and re-gather myself.

    The whole choir is a great team. I know as Secretary / Treasurer I can make requests of anybody and have that request accepted. In my experience there's no criticism of others, no back-stabbing, no jealousies. Our time in rehearsal together provides an uplifting experience. Some singers say they arrive tired or jaded after a day at work and leave two hours later uplifted and energised.

    Ours is a magic community of which I'm proud to be a member, and proud to promote at every opportunity. Our choir's by-line "Singing People Together" is so apt. Singing in the Wellington Community Choir works! The Wellington Community Choir is my choir."
    Love, Ralph





    Breaker Bay choir is led by Jan Hinde, Sidharth Pagad and associated musicians, having been formed by Clare OLeary. A variety of lively and enjoyable music is sung and members travel from other suburbs such as Seatoun. The choir enjoys dancing as well as singing with instrumental accompaniment and an exciting Ceilidh was held last December. Like other choirs joining in our Michael Fowler Centre concert, Breaker Bay engages with their community through events such as singing carols locally, appearing at the Miramar North School fair and 'Voices for Hospice' in 2013.



    Kapiti Gospel Choir was formed by song leader Carol Shortis and first sang at the Sustainable Home & Garden show.  In 2014 Shona McKee McNeil became the director and now 40 plus members, from young people to seniors, meet in Paekakariki.  Songs are sung 'a capella' and the choir learns by listening. Tony Backhouse arrangements and gospel music from around the world form the focus.  Song leaders thoroughly enjoyed working with Julian Raphael recently to build skills and confidence. Performances at the Nepal Fundraiser, Relay for Life Cancer Fund, NZ Deaf Awareness Picnic, Chamber Music NZ's Christmas event and community events including local radio have showcased the choir. A weekend last November at the Sacred Heart Church, Hastings, with both Napier and Gale Force Gospel choirs was most enjoyable.



    The choir began in May 2011 with Julian Raphael as director and Susie Hardie as assistant director. A vibrant community of people meet weekly to participate in the joy of singing learning music from the world's cultures.  In addition to annual concerts they have performed in community events and 'away' trips to Carterton and Masterton. Performances with other musical groups such as the Hutt Valley Ukulele Orchestra, Arohanui strings, Marimba Mojo and the Upper Hutt Brass Band have been very well received.




    The Manawatu Community Choir aims to provide all people, whatever their background or ability, with an opportunity to sing together and celebrate the warmth and vitality generated through music making. Founded and directed by Jennifer Moss, the choir has been enabling the community of Palmerston North to rediscover and share their voices for over five years. The choir has sung at community concerts and events and in a most enjoyable workshop with the Wellington Community Choir.


  • Lala Simpson, Choreographer, Wellington Community Choir



    "When in Madagascar, music was a natural part of my life and my first memory is of singing. I learnt to sing and dance within my community and by being part of a local folk and dancing group up until I was a teenager.

    Much was learnt later by being part of a church choir and performing as lead singer in a band. I also choreographed different dances for groups in Madagascar.

    When we moved to New Zealand from Madagascar 12 years ago I continued singing by being part of various choirs which sang from 'Madrigal' to 'Gospel' music. I am an exponent of African and Malagasy singing and dancing which I enjoy 'in community'.

    One of the first things I did on reaching New Zealand was to join the Wellington Community Choir. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The diverse range of songs we sing (the African ones in particular), the people, and the natural way in which we learn the songs have kept me returning to the choir. I sing as a soprano and have taught the choir some songs. I am the choir's choreographer which means I participate in the magic of putting music and dance together.

    I regularly attend workshops by African music teachers from overseas. I am one of the music leaders at St John's in the city and often lead the worship songs there. I  also had some training in song leadership with Julian Raphael.

    I teach African dance classes in Wellington and lead workshops teaching traditional and original songs and dances from Madagascar and Africa.I have been the assistant director of the Wellington Children Community Choir, acted as guest director for the Wellington Young Voices Choir, the Hutt Valley Choir, 'Womansong', 'Lunchtime singing at St Andrews', the Wellington Community Choir and Gale Force Gospel Choir. I am one of the tutors for Community Music Junction 'Sing for Your Life Program'. I featured at the Cuba Dupa Festival with 'JijyMadagascar', the Newtown Festival with Moringa Dancers and Kubatana drummers, Africa Day as a solo dancer and also as a singer with NyMahafaly Madagascar. Last year, I formed a band with friends to sing songs for a Madagascan concert raising money for the people of


    South Madagascar. Recently I sang as the sole performer at a concert at St John's in the city performing the songs of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel."

  • Carol Shortis, Assistant Director, Wellington Community Choir



    Carol Shortis is a composer, choral leader and performer based in  Wellington. She has a strong belief in the power of song to bring  people with diverse abilities and backgrounds together. Her passion    for sharing the singing experience drives a continued interest in  arranging and developing songs from around the world. She is also well known as a performer of Celtic folk music.

    Carol teaches a number of natural voice singing groups in Wellington, as well as private voice coaching lessons for those who sing in community choirs. As a choral composer, she has had works performed at international festivals, and received commissions to write new pieces for choirs. In addition to writing, directing and performing, she organises events for local and visiting performers.

    Carol is a committee member of the Composers Association of New Zealand, co-founder of the Song Leaders Network Aotearoa, and a member of the New Zealand Choral Federation.
    Carol attended university as a mature student and in 2006 won the national Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music for her composition The Riddle of her Flight, setting a text by her friend Mike Johnson, a Waiheke poet and author. During this time she worked as the Administrator for Wellington Youth Choir, and sang with a number of choirs in Wellington before joining the Wellington Community Choir in 2005, where she is now Assistant Director.

    In 2008 she was elected to the committee of the Composers Association of NewZealand, and became the Treasurer of that organization. In addition to her committee work, she has been co-convenor of the CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop (2010-11), and has represented CANZ at the ISCM General Assemblies in Sweden (2009) and Sydney (2010).

  • Julian Raphael, Director, Wellington Community Choir


    Julian Raphael B.Mus, M.Phil, PTCS, is a highly experienced community musician, educator, composer and performer who works alongside children and adults with a philosophy and teaching style influenced and informed by music making in world cultures. He is director of 'Community Music Junction', which has been operating in Wellington for nine years enabling people to sing together and learn a variety of musical instruments. He is a student and teacher of music from the Shona culture of Zimbabwe and one of the very few New Zealand facilitators of African marimba and mbira. Julian tours the country leading choral and instrumental workshops for schools, teachers and communities. He facilitates the 'accessible concert' programme for Chamber Music New Zealand in conjunction with Arts Access Aotearoa and is a passionate advocate of the 'Arts for All" philosophy. Julian leads the Wellington Community Choir, Hutt Valley Community Choir and 'Male Vocale' as well as daytime 'Sing for your Life' groups. Julian is a composer and arranger of music for voices. Recent works include 'An African Tale' (2011), 'The Big Bang' (2014) and 'Sing it to my Face' (a collaboration with Jo Randerson & Barbarian Productions in 2014). 'Our Songs', a multi choir work in collaboration with Hinemoa Baker premiered at the 2015 Cuba Dupa Festival and in June this year Nota Bene will give the first performance of his song cycle, 'Untold Stories'. Julian has been comissioned by the Welington Community Choir to compose a song for this their 10th birthday concert at the Michael Fowler Centre. The song will also feature a number of other community choirs that are performing at the event.

    Julian Raphael, Director, Wellington Community Choir


    Choirs from around the lower North Island are joining us on August 29th in the Michael Fowler Centre.

    They are: The Breaker Bay Community Choir, Carterton Community Choir, Gale Force Gospel, Hawkes Bay Community Choir, Hutt Valley Community Choir, Kapiti Gospel, Manawatu Community Choir and the Martinborough Community Choir.

  • Acknowledgments


    There are a number of people who are supporting this event already. At the outset we thank Lian Wong for the design and production of the excellent video for this page. The video carries photographs by Simon Elwell of Inspire Photography and photographs by Judy Wagg. They have captured us well and we thank them for their work which enhances this page.