College – Issue 40

MUSIC College boys on song in national spotlight

Three College boys have hit the right notes, joining some of the country’s top young singers after securing highly competitive spots in the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir.

As Year 12 student Tom Whitteker explains, “It is like winning a place in the national U20 rugby side – but for singing.” The talented trio – Tom, his fellow Year 12 student Ollie Jones, and Year 13 student Jake Cutler – have enjoyed their first practice session in Auckland after winning places in the bass section. Tom and Ollie are choral scholars at College, with Tom having been a chorister in the Christchurch Cathedral Choir from a young age. “It was certainly a shock to be selected for the national choir – to be handpicked to be part of the top 57 secondary student singers in New Zealand and perform at a level we have never experienced before,” Tom says. “It was an amazing experience, meeting the best singers and teachers from across the country for the very first time in Auckland in January. It has been a big step up. “After our first session with fellow members of the choir, you quickly realise you are no longer a big fish in a small pond and that there are some impressive singers across New Zealand.” For Ollie, the Secondary Students’

“The national choir provides a great opportunity to make new connections and meet people you would never normally meet,” he says. “For me, being part of a choir at such a high level is really venturing into uncharted territories and encountering a whole new level of talent. “It is also great to work with very talented musical directors and be inspired to work hard.” Ollie says a career in music “is on his radar” and hopes the choir can help build his talents.

“That early tour was a fantastic experience, and now a spot in the national choir has helped me move up to a whole new level of singing,” he says. “Singing is certainly a passion. Being part of the national choir is incredible and realising that you can perform at such a high level. I’m one of the oldest members but I’m learning so much. The national choir teachers are incredibly talented and can pick up something that may need changing among all the voices.” Remarkably, Jake also manages to find time to play guitar and row for College, while also focusing on his academic aspirations. All three boys experienced their first “big gig” in the public spotlight, performing at the National Anzac Day Service in Wellington. “It was an honour for all of us and we were fortunate to perform with the choir on such a special day,” Ollie says.

For Jake, being a member of the choir is “one of the best experiences of my life.”

Having been encouraged to start singing on stage in the family restaurant on the West Coast at age six, Jake has made the most of his musical opportunities after joining the Chapel Choir as a Year 9 student and setting off on tour to Europe.

“ It is like winning a place in the national U20 rugby side – but for singing. ” TomWhitteker

Choir also offers invaluable exposure and experience.

Christ’s College Canterbury


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