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Marge in charge

For the past 15 years, a group of Wairarapa locals have been turning up at a South Featherston home every Tuesday evening. They’re the Featherston Gentlemen Singers and they’re there for choir practice. 

It all began some 45 (ish) years ago when Marguerite took the choir at St Pat’s; fast forward three decades and she bumps into former student Chris (now Featherston’s local plumber) who says, ‘When do I get to sing in your choir again, Miss?’ 

At their first rehearsal there were six members (including husband Garrick), the next week there were ten, ‘and a month later we had 20, most of whom are still in the choir,’ says Marguerite. The members, ranging in age from 18 to 84 years, have included dairy and sheep farmers, chefs, CAA inspectors, teachers, builders, electricians, truck drivers and professors of Chinese history. ‘We’re a disparate group but we’ve actually got something in common,’ says Garrick, ‘and if we need a sparky or a plumber they always come.’

For some time Marguerite had to play the piano and conduct at the same time. How? ‘She has very expressive eyebrows,’ says Barry. Accompanist Rosie has been a welcome addition. 

Over the years the choir has performed for Rotary, schools, and community events. They also never miss their two annual carolling invitations. ‘We always sing at the little Waiorongomai church on the banks of Lake Wairarapa, and the historic Boyne woolshed at Tora,’ says Marguerite. 

Every second September the gents join the Japanese Chor-Farmer choir for a performance at the ANZAC Hall.  Chor-Farmer makes a biennial visit to Featherston to pay tribute to those who died at the prisoner-of-war camp there, and to strengthen their friendship with the town. The Featherston Gentlemen Singers are always invited to sing with them.

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