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Teapot Summer School January 2020

Elizabeth Crayford reports on the 20th annual Teapot Summer School which took place in Brightwater, Nelson from 10-19 January 2020

How about this for a summer holiday? Being part of a capacity choir of eighty-one enthusiastic singers; with an internationally renowned conductor, excellent soloists, vocal coaching and accompaniment; splendid surroundings, activities, and great food; relaxing evenings mixing it up with hard-core board gamers; all in a brilliantly-managed nine days of singing and wonderful special events – and, at the end of it all, performing gorgeous music to an enthusiastic audience in the Nelson Centre for Musical Arts!

That was Nelson’s Teapot Summer School for 2020. And what a treat to have Ben Parry lead us in works by Sir David Willcocks, John Rutter, NZ’s own Chris Artley and Ben Parry himself.

The eighty-one singers came from all around New Zealand – from Warkworth to Central Otago, with a few others from Australia. Seven young people took advantage of the special youth rate, with three of them auditioning for the scholarship to join the Youth Choirs of Great Britain’s Easter session. This year the scholarship was awarded to Alexandra Woodhouse Appleby from Wellington and we wish her the best for this and her further musical studies.

Wellington pianist and organist and all-round musician Jonathan Berkahn accompanied the rehearsals and the concert. Vocal coach Rebecca Ryan brought the choir up to speed each morning with specially focused warm-ups, and offered much-valued individual coaching sessions to the whole choir.

We were fortunate in having baritone Will King (a former youth choir scholarship winner) return to Teapot to sing the solos in the Willcocks psalms, and mezzo soprano soloist Claire Barton sing in the Rutter spirituals.

The Sunday afternoon concert was performed to an enthusiastic audience in the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts auditorium.

Next year, Danish conductor Ebbe Munk will be returning to lead the Summer School again. It will be the twenty-first Teapot Summer School and the programme for the event will celebrate this.

The dates for the 2021 Summer School are 8-17 January. Details will be on the school’s website in April. (https://teapotsummerschool.co.nz)

Ninety singers are all that can be accommodated, so organisers Inga Lane and her team will be offering first-come, first-served registration for 2021 – while balancing the numbers in each voice part of course. Altos and sopranos will need to be quick off the mark!

Chris Artley & Ben Parry

Chris Artley & Ben Parry