Barry came to Gisborne with extensive experience as a choral singer. His role in starting the choir as a madrigal group meeting at Trish and Allan McLay's home is documented in the history page of the choir's website.
Under Barry's leadership, between 1985 and 1993 the choir gave formal performances, mostly by engaging guest conductors for final rehearsals and performances. Initially these were held in the Gisborne Mechanics Hall, but from 1987 onward the choir adopted the Church of the Resurrection as its preferred concert venue.
During Stephen Brockman's directorship, Barry often assisted with leadership of warm-ups and occasional performance items. In year 2010, during Stephen's absence on a European trip, Barry directed a concert in which the choir staged a creditable performance of "Serenade to Music" by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The choir returned to The Church of the Resurrection for this concert, "just like old times".
Barry left in year 2016 to live in Murwillumbah, NSW. He has kept in touch by following the newsletter, collecting recordings, occasional correspondence, and very recently, by participation in virtual choir projects.
D’Arcy was born in Tonga and grew up in Melbourne. He began singing as a boy alto and studied piano from the age of eight. While studying for the Christian ministry he was organist and choir director at Queen’s College in the University of Melbourne.
During his graduate studies in the USA he again played organ and directed local church choirs. Back in Australia, he sang in choirs in Melbourne and Sydney and joined the editorial committee of the Australian Hymn Book, a book which sold over a million copies. The successor Together in Song is used by five denominations across Australia. D’Arcy wrote an extensive commentary on this book, called a “companion”.
He joined the Gisborne Singers in 2005 and was its secretary for several years. He also served a term as national president of the Uniting Church.
D’Arcy particularly enjoys singing the “big” works of Handel, Mozart, Brahms and Faure.
Founding Music Director, Barry Firth, began the Gisborne Madrigal Group in 1980, following a State Government initiative to encourage community choirs. My time began in 1981. In those days, our number was eight or so, and we would rehearse around the kitchen table at the home of the McLays’, Ivyleigh, Station Road, New Gisborne - moving eventually, as numbers grew, into the living-room.
Over the years I held various committee roles, and I was able to participate with fellow choristers in so many wonderful performances - all ably managed by our Music Directors, together with our committees, and supported by fine accompanists, soloists, and orchestras. During that time, two contingents of our choristers travelled to perform the two superb works of Karl Jenkins: Cantata Memoria - 2017; and The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace - 2020, with international choirs at Carnegie Hall, New York.
How the time has gone… Although I have always loved music, my appreciation of the great value for general well-being - of singing along with others and making music - continues to grow.
A life member of the Gisborne Singers! Wow! How did this come about? Did the committee make a mistake? Well there is no one else with a similar name, so perhaps it really was intended for me!
But getting down to tin tacks. I have been around a while; I’ve served on the committee in various guises including a couple of stints as President during which I worked to identify and involve more people in the multitude of jobs needed for the choir to function as well as it does; I put together the Favourites book, and even spelt it properly much to some folks surprise; I made the conductor’s podium, and together with Stephen the black height extension; I designed and with Chris Poynter constructed the risers, and with Stephen the super-risers. In summary then: blood, sweat and tears.
Margaret Crawford Brockman
I started learning piano at the age of nine and flute at seventeen in Adelaide, my hometown. For the next nine years I continued to study in Melbourne, Vienna and Paris. This was followed by teaching positions in many places including Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Hong Kong.
Over a period of about 60 years I have played in different parts of the world in dozens of orchestras and chamber music ensembles, but I don't thing at any time that this has given me more pleasure than singing with the Gisborne Singers! The combination of glorious music, great company, close friendships and magnificent concerts (not to mention delicious suppers!) over the past twelve years, has been the one of the most rewarding parts of my life. And I have loved making arrangements of songs and orchestral reductions for the Choir. It was very exciting when Sir Karl Jenkins accepted my reduced orchestral score as the official one for Boosey and Hawkes in 2018.
Thank you, Gisborne Singers from the bottom of my heart, for giving me Life Membership!