Music Director’s Message

We wish you all a very warm welcome to the 2017 Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival and that isn’t just because this year’s theme is all about the weather! We’re putting away all those crazy creatures from last year and this year we’re getting out the umbrellas, slapping on the sunscreen and bracing ourselves for some weird and wonderful weather.

If this is your first year involved with the Festival, know that you are about to become part of something that is huge in scale – you will be one of more than 4000 pupils who will take part this year. It is wonderful to have you on board. If you are a returning member of the festival family, we want to welcome you back and I can assure you that this year will be just as exciting and demanding as previous years.

You are part of something of which Christchurch is very proud, something that is unique in New Zealand and something that you will always remember with pride. It is always a thrill to feel the Horncastle Arena buzzing with the excitement of hundreds of young people ready to perform and even more wonderful to hear the enthusiastic applause of an audience wowed by the skill and musicality of young people. The adults feel that thrill, too – it is magical to step out on that stage and see all that hard work come together.

As I mentioned earlier, the theme and title for this year’s Festival is “Whatever the Weather”, so we will be exploring music all about rain, sunshine, wind, storms – you name it, chances are there will be a piece of music about it. An old musical from years ago has recently made a comeback so we’re doing the ever-popular “Singin In The Rain”, coupled with a song you may already know, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”. “Give Me a Kite” you won’t know but we hope you’ll like it – it has some really beautiful moments in it and it’s a fun song to sing. “I Can See Clearly Now” is another “oldie-but-a-goodie” and “Purea Nei” is a beautiful waiata by Hirini Melbourne telling of how the wind, rain and sun help you feel better and sweep away your troubles. I wrote “Sing Your Song!” for the Festival back in 2005 and it told of my trip to Antarctica back then; well, I went back to Antarctica this year and when I reread the words they fitted perfectly so back it comes for a second time. “Africa” is a pop song from the 1980s and we hope it provides us with a really special end to the first half. Opening the second half is “Summertime” from an opera by George Gershwin. Now, hearing the word “opera” might make you think of a particular style of music but this is actually a jazz standard that has been sung by thousands of singers across the world. This is performed with the orchestra as are our final tunes – we’re putting together a lovely classical tune “In the Bleak Midwinter” with another jazzy number, “Winter Wonderland” which many of you might know from Ronan Keating’s recent advert for Air New Zealand. And doing two songs in one is great because we get to miss out the verses (which can sometimes be less than interesting) and just do the choruses which are much more fun. Finally the show concludes with the Crowded House song “Weather With You”, a Kiwi classic that will have you and your mums and dads ending the show on a high note. The Music Team has been looking long and hard since before last year’s festival took place to find the right songs and we think we found them – again. We hope that you enjoy singing them.

Here’s to “Whatever the Weather”. Let’s enjoy every minute of it together. If you are going to be a member of the massed choir, enjoy singing the songs, get those words learnt and listen to all the great advice from your teachers. If you are a member of a Representative Group, get ready for hard work but also a great outcome. Everybody – get ready for a feeling of great achievement! I am always amazed at the standard that we reach at the Festival and that is all credit to you, your parents and the team of talented staff coaching you and helping to organise the event.

I hope you really enjoy your experience with the Festival this year. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to get started so get your gumboots on, grab your raincoat and don’t forget your sunblock as we head outdoors to see what the good old Kiwi weather has in store for us!

Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa

Patrick Shepherd
Musical Director