Singing for Christmas joy

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BRINGING JOY: Mid Canterbury Choir members are preparing for their Christmas concert. They include those who have been with the group since it began 20 years ago (from left) - Vivienne Jackson of Ashburton, Lynne Judkins of Ashburton, Marianne Lemmens of Geraldine, Elizabeth Small of Ashburton, Julie Harris of Ashburton, Graham Marr of Methven and choir manager Carol Gunn of Ashburton.
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Mid Canterbury Choir members have been singing their hearts out as they prepare for their annual Christmas Concert. To be held this Sunday, Celebrate Christmas Around the World will feature international concert organist Martin Setchell.

‘‘Just singing, it brings me joy,’’ said founding member Elizabeth Small of Ashburton when talking about what she likes about performing.

‘‘Making music together and just sharing it. We come to practice each week and we polish it a bit more and a bit more, and then we get to share it,’’ added fellow founding member Julie Harris of Ashburton.

Their skill of singing takes on extra meaning around Christmas when they perform many a carol, both modern and dating back as far as the 18th century.

Members have even had to practice the art of rapping, for the carol Rapping Paper. This has required attention to the techniques of speaking in rhyme and taking cues from fellow members.

‘‘You have to be in time, otherwise it comes to bits,’’ foundation member Marianne Lemmens of Geraldine explained.

Choir manager Carol Gunn said the choir had many members who had been with the group since it began 20 years ago. In addition, there were always new members coming on board. Recently two young men from Methven had joined, helping boost the choir’s male contingent, which makes up about 20 per cent of choir members.

‘‘One of the things I love about the choir, is it’s continuing and evolving,’’ Gunn said.

Mid Canterbury Choir members practice at St Stephen’s Church in preparation for their Christmas concert on Sunday.

The choir will be singing under the direction of Sylvia Watson, returned to lead as acting music director. Carolie Andrew is accompanist.

In the new year the choir will welcome new music director Kathie McKimmie, who has worked with the choir on several occasions in the past.

* Celebrate Christmas Around the World is this Sunday, 2pm, at St Stephens Church, Park St, Ashburton. Entry by programme at the door $15. Afternoon tea will be served after the concert