It was a grand visit for New Zealand’s best young singers on Thursday, with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy visiting their practice.
The visit comes just three days into the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir’s new cycle, which has seen close to 50 new singers join the group’s prestigious ranks.
The 60-strong group have congregated for their first training camp in Wellington, ahead of their two-year cycle together.
Head boy of St Patrick’s College, Wellington, Ren-C Tamayo, 17, says has been humbled by the experience.
* Applications for national secondary schools choir open
* Explainer: Who is Dame Patsy Reddy, and what will she do as Governor-General?
“It’s unbelievable, I am very honoured to be here, and it was really exciting [to perform for the Governor-General],” he said.
“It’s really great being able to sing with so many people that are just as passionate about singing as I am.”
The tenor by nature was challenged by a switch to tenor one, which is higher pitched than his usual tenor two, but knows there will be many more hurdles ahead.
“Personally, it is going to be very challenging for me, especially with going to university next year.
“It’s the first time I have ever sung all day, every day as well, so it’s quite hard, and something I will have to get used to.”
The group will gather together each school holidays through to next year, with a July trip to Hong Kong on the agenda.
Wellington East Girls’ College head girl Greta Healy-Melhuish, 16, is one of few returning singers to the choir.
“There are about 50 new people in the course … it’s great to meet so many new people,” she said.
It is her second cycle with the choir, so she knows what to expect from the coming 18 months.
“Last cycle we travelled to Canada … it was really amazing,” she says.
“Everyone is really excited and there is a lot of anticipation.”
The group were emailed their 14 pieces before they met in Wellington and were expected to learn them quickly.
“The days are quite long, we start at about 9am and finish at about 6pm,” Greta added.
Choir members underwent a significant audition process, that involved listening tests and solo performances before being selected.
The 60 members were selected from the 250 students who were invited to audition.
* New Zealand Secondary Students Choir’s week-long time together will culminate with an open rehearsal at Wellington Girls’ College on Sunday, April 23.