Choirs Aotearoa NZ and Bullet Heart Club theatre company recently embarked on a collaborative partnership towards the world premiere performances of The Hall at Wanaka’s Festival of Colour. Written by Ro Bright, and directed by Kitan Petkovski, The Hall is a theatrical play telling the story of a family living through their grandmother’s diagnosis with frontotemporal dementia, and their journey to reignite her memory through her lifelong love of sacred harp music. The choral score consists of contemporary sacred harp style compositions by Pat Irwin, best known for his work with the B52’s. The songs are woven into the storytelling and sung by singers positioned throughout the audience.
Voices NZ singers were used as the professional foundation of sound, which was then joined by local community singers from Wanaka, a formula Bullet Heart Club plans to replicate with future shows. One of Voices NZ’s recently appointed associate conductors, Nick Forbes, led the choir throughout the rehearsal and performance process, liaising with the Bullet Heart Club team to integrate the score, rehearse Voices NZ and local community singers, and contribute to rehearsal notes to be used by new groups of singers in the future. All three performances at Wanaka’s Festival of Colours were sold out, and many audience members were moved to tears.