After more than 21 years as musical director of Kowhai Singers, Peter Cammell is laying down his baton.
Founding member Beverley Hicks describes Peter as a great enthusiast of choral music, with an acute sense of correct pitch and a strong academic musical background.
“His shoes will be hard to fill,” she says.
“Add to this his unerring sense of humour and his constant apparent calm, and it is easy to realise that Kowhai Singers has a real job on its hands to replace him.
“However, replace him we must, and applications are now being sought.”
Established in 1984 by Basil Kirker, Kowhai Singers has had only two musical directors in its history.
It gives three concerts a year, as well as being involved in street singing at Christmas and singing at local rest homes.
Beverley says Kowhai Singers traditionally present works from the standard choral repertoire and Peter was particularly interested in developing the choir’s skills in unaccompanied singing.
“To this end, he has also, in recent years, trained a smaller group of singers, drawn from the choir’s ranks, to create a chamber choir which has performed at many of the choir’s concerts. Peter has also been concerned to try and stretch the choir’s abilities by presenting them with music from a variety of periods and styles.”
His final challenge with Kowhai Singers will be to direct Handel’s Messiah in May as a celebration of the opening of the refurbished Warkworth Town Hall.
“For this glorious work, he has also enlisted the well-schooled voices of Matakantata, directed by Susan Hayday.”
The choir will give two performances of the great oratorio, accompanied both by organ and a small chamber orchestra. The soloists will include mezzo soprano Beverley Hicks, soprano Jayne Tankersley, tenor Iian Tetley and bass Chalium Poppy.
There are about 40 singers in the group and they meet on Monday evenings at the Methodist Church hall in Warkworth. The singers range from the musically trained to those interested in singing merely for the joy and fun of it.
“It is truly a community choir, both serving the community and representing it,” Beverley says.