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
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
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.