The Big Sing is back!

School choirs will be warming up their vocal chords in preparation for the return of The Big Sing next month. 

Starting on June 8, heats of The Big Sing 2022 begin across the country with regional festivals taking place in nine regions from 8-16 June, before winners will go through to The Big Sing Finale in 2022: Christchurch, Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 August at Christchurch Town Hall. 

The popular nationwide school choral competion is back after a two-year hiatus and this week, guest judges were announced for the three-night finale festival:

Elise Bradley will adjudicate all three festival nights, having recently relocated back to New Zealand from Toronto, Canada, where she spent almost 15 years directing the Toronto Children’s Chorus.

A passionate musician, award-winning conductor, and internationally respected educator, adjudicator and clinician, Bradley served for many years as the Head of Music at Westlake Girls’ High School in Auckland. She founded and conducted the school’s renowned treble choir, Key Cygnetures from 1991-2007, and directed the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir from 2001-2007, both of which won numerous national and international awards. In January 2018 she was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM), in recognition of her services to Music.

The Finale panel is made up of Judy Bellingham, Igelese Ete and Jono Palmer.

Previously Associate Professor of Voice at Otago University, Judy Bellingham has now retired from all performing and academic life and is concentrating on teaching voice in her busy private studio, and presenting vocal and choral workshops throughout the country.

She is an internationally recognised vocal clinician and has given papers at a number of overseas conferences, most recently in Sweden on the increasing use of taonga puoro in NZ vocal music, and in Australia on the influence of quality New Zealand poetry on New Zealand vocal music.

She has published a book on sight-singing Sing What You See, See What You Sing and DVDs Warm Me Up, Judy! and Body, Voice and Brain. Judy has also recorded a CD of New Zealand song, and a DVD on historical Dunedin songs titled Songs of Old Dunedin. In 2016 she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List.

Tuilagi is his Samoan chief title hailing from the village of Fatausi in Savai’i. Igelese Ete is the Associate Professor and Associate Dean: Pacific at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington. Before that, he was the Head of Performing Arts at the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of Pacific, Suva, Fiji.

Ete and was awarded the prestigious Creative New Zealand Senior Pacific Artist Award for his contribution to the promotion and performance of Pacific music in New Zealand and the Pacific in 2009. The Fiji Government appointed him, in 2017, Chairperson of the Fiji Arts Council Board. He has recently completed his PhD in Music.

Jono Palmer is a dynamic and enterprising conductor from Auckland, New Zealand. His choirs have won national and international acclaim, including two Gold Medals at the 2015 Grand Prix of Nations in Magdeburg, Germany, and many awards at regional and national festivals of The Big Sing.

In October 2018, Palmer was a finalist in the inaugural London International Choral Conducting Competition. In 2022, Jono took up the position of musical director for the Auckland Chamber Choir based at the University of Auckland, where he also lectures in conducting and music theory.

Judging the Auahi Kore award at The Big Sing Finale, for best performance of a piece with a text in te reo Māori, will be “kapa haka queen” Tihi Puanaki (Ngāti Hine/Ngāi Tahu) and her son, singer-songwriter and te reo Māori recording artist Te Huaki Puanaki (Ngāti Hine/Ngāpuhi).


Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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