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The Rotorua District Choir - A Brief History


The desire to develop a local, secular choir in the Rotorua community came from Andrew (Nick) Carter (1922 – 2008). He placed an advertisement in the local Rotorua Daily Post newspaper on 8th February 1960 calling for anyone with an interest in forming a choir. Auditions were carried out and the Rotorua Choral Society was born with 40 members making their debut performance on the 28th October 1960. The review of the performance captured in the Daily Post went:

“A choir of 40 voices and a small orchestra conducted by Mr. Andrew Carter presented Schubert’s Mass in G to a packed St. Faiths Church, Ohinemutu, last night. Faithfully presented, the work was of a surprisingly high standard.”

The Mass was repeated by public demand at the Soundshell on 20th November 1960 as a charity performance to raise funds in aid of “Old Folk”.

The Choir was re-named in 1965 and became the Carter Chorale following a highly successful five years performing to sell out audiences. Following the departure of Andrew Carter for Christchurch in 1965 Ernest Williams took up the musical director role of the Chorale for the next 23 years.

Next to step in was Piet Kay in 1989 who helped navigate the Chorale through a name change that reflected the financial assistance provided by the Rotorua District Council and the membership of the choir that has always been drawn from across the district Murupara, Waikite Valley, Rerewhakaaitu, Ngakuru, Reporoa, Tokoroa the list is endless. The name Rotorua District Choir was adopted and this is the name that the choir performs under today.

Since 2010 the choir has enjoyed the talents of multiple conductors and musical directors; Elizabeth Pillar, Evelyn Falconer, Ursula Schraa, Martyn Heath and we now add Jess Bradley to the list. They have kept the music flowing and the choristers challenged to take on genres and works that keep the spirit of the original members from 1960 alive, resounding and echoing throughout performances spaces region wide.

The Choir will turn 60 in 2020 and is a testament to the talented people of the Rotorua District who have sustained the taonga that is the RDC over the years.

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