Singers Pop Up in Auckland

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For the past four Monday mornings, several dozen keen singers have come to The Opera Centre in Parnell for the New Zealand Opera Pop-Up Chorus.

Some members of the Pop-Up Chorus are new to singing, while others are experienced. We caught up with three members of the group during their tea break on Monday to find out how rehearsals are going.

“There’s so many lovely things about it,” Helen Hammond says. “I love the people that we’re working with. For me as an older person it’s wonderful to be with younger musicians who are so talented. I’m enjoying the selection of music very much, and I’m enjoying the challenge.”

Alan Patterson has sung all his life, including being a former member of the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus. These days he teaches singing and has come along to the chorus to lend a stronger voice. As a more experienced member of the group, he’s enjoying seeing the enjoyment of those new to singing.

“They’re keen and eager and I can see their faces just light up when they’ve learned a line or something like that. Now that they’re actually singing operatically you can hear the difference.”

Sunny Morete is also returning to singing after a break, and says that she’s enjoying gathering each week, and being reminded to use her body and breathe to support her vocals.

“Having not sung for quite a few years I’m finding that I’m having to work my body really hard so that I can get back there again, so that I’m confident with the notes.”

Alan concludes, “They say singing is easy, but it’s very difficult. I love the challenge and I love the comradery.”

The Pop Up Chorus is a special project developed by Adam Thompson, as part of his 2016/17 PETTMAN Dare Fellowship. He was inspired to create the Pop Up Chorus by similar projects he worked on at Opera North in Leeds, but with a New Zealand twist.

The music team includes young singers Bernice Austin, Manase Latu and Samson Setu, along with conductor Timothy Carpenter and accompanist Amy Chang.

The group has just one more rehearsal to go before they will perform operatic and musical favourites in a special performance for family and friends – and Adam says they’re sounding wonderful.

“I’ve been delighted with the response to the Pop-Up Chorus,” Adam says.

“We’ve thrown the singers in the deep end, but each week the ensemble is sounding better and better. Together we have been working on our technique to shape the music. Many of the group are new to singing opera, but have really risen to the challenge.

The way everyone is working together to share this beautiful music is inspiring.”  

Photo: Helen Hammond, Sunny Morete, Alan Patterson and Adam Thompson