European tour thrills chorister

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A love of music is taking former Timaru woman Eleanor McGechie around the world.
Miss McGechie (20) has recently returned from a tour with the New Zealand Youth Choir, which included performances in Singapore, the Czech Republic, France and England.
A memorial service performance in Le Quesnoy, northern France, which commemorated New Zealand troops who fought in World War 1, was among the many highlights, Miss McGechie said.
‘‘It was deeply emotional for us to learn about and remember the bravery of many young New Zealanders, many of whom were in the same age group as our choir.’’
The group, which was on tour for three weeks, also competed in the International Festival of Academic Choirs in the Czech Republic, and won each of the categories it entered, along with a Grand Prix award.
‘‘It was great to be able to share our New Zealand music and culture with choirs from Poland, Latvia, Russia and the Czech Republic,’’ Miss McGechie said.
The group later went on to Paris where it sang High Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral.
‘‘This was incredible and a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity,’’ she said.
‘‘Then we went to Oxford in England and gave a concert, followed by a lunchtime concert in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
‘‘Then we had three nights in London and sang at St John’s Smith Square where our performance was recorded. Our tour finished in Cambridge with a concert as part of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival and this was a wonderful end to the tour.’’
Miss McGechie took time out from her second year of studies — a Bachelor of Music majoring in classical voice performance — to participate in the tour.
‘‘Fortunately the tour is planned to meet as many of the university holidays as possible so I only missed one and a-half weeks of trimester two.’’
A $500 personal development scholarship from Alpine Energy helped fund her tour participation, and she funded the rest herself.
The 49 choristers were from around New Zealand and were joined by six support crew members, including music director and conductor David Squire.
Miss McGechie has enjoyed the experience, so much so she plans to audition for the choir’s next threeyear cycle later this year.