The Royal Dunedin Male Choir

News and Reviews

2018 Mid-Winter Concert Review by Elizabeth Bouman of the Otago Daily Times - 18th June 2018

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir (director Richard Madden) and guests presented a variety concert to a good-sized audience in the town hall yesterday afternoon.

After a strong, crisply articulated national anthem, the choir continued with Sound Ye Trumpets — a robust anthem by Handel and ideal repertoire for the 50 male voices. Stout-hearted Men and Land of Hope and Glory later in the programme achieved similar energy. Reasonably clear diction revealed the story-line effectively in Pedro the Fisherman and another highlight among the choir’s 12 numbers was Rhythm of Life, with excellent duo accompaniment from pianists Linda Folland and Frances Brodie.

The choir regularly gives performing opportunity to emerging musicians, many of whom go on to become professionals. Yesterday continued this tradition with two young violinists whose performances already demonstrate sound technique and maturity in interpretation. Victoria Williamson (year 12) played Kroll’s Banjo and Fiddle and Skyla Murray (year 8) delivered a very sensitive rendition of Romance Op. 26 by Svendsen, then together with their accompanist, John Van Buskirk, performed a well-balanced and sympathetically matched Concerto for Two Violins in D Major by J.S. Bach.

Other guest artists were baritone Rory Sweeney — currently at the University of Otago — who sang three solos, and Sophie Sparrow, an Otago graduate soon to leave for further voice studies overseas, who showcased the growth and maturity of her soprano range with three solos accompanied by Van Buskirk: all-time favourite Vilia (Lehar), Ritchie’s He Moemoa and the humorous aria by J Strauss Mein Herr Marquis. Sings Hilda (directed by Michael Grant and Ben Madden) presented a bracket of challenging choral arrangements from their recent Big Sing success.

David Burchell accompanied on the organ and the concert was compered by Lyn Murray.

QSM for Musical Director

The ODT records, on Monday 5th June, that Richard Madden, Musical Director of our choir, has been awarded the QSM for services to music. Congratulations Richard. Your father, who also conducted this choir, would be so proud.

2017 Christmas Concert Review by Elizabeth Bouman of the Otago Daily Times

ODT Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Choir in good form and well supported

Music for the Festive Season featured at a variety concert on Monday night, presented by the Royal Dunedin Male Choir conducted by Richard Madden with accompanist Linda Folland, organist David Burchell and guest artists.

The choir opened with Rogers and Hammerstein’s It’s a Grand Night for Singing, which indeed they did with popular choral arrangements of songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Seventy-six Trombones and Fascinating Rhythm. The choir was in good form with some impressive harmonies in numbers such as an interpretation of Sing We Now Nowell, a beautifully serene Mary Did You Know? and This Nearly Was Mine.

The Dunedin Star Singers presented two brackets of selected choral numbers, which included a choral arrangement of Breathe Soft Ye Winds and a humorous seasonal song The Twelve Days After Christmas.

Guest artist tenor Ridge Ponini is a name to remember. This young man came from Rarotonga in 2015 to study voice at University of Otago, and the three songs performed last evening showed strong tenor resonance with a passionate sincerity in expressing the text, demonstrating his determination to succeed as a professional singer.

Music from Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass Band (conductor Norman Thorn) was a popular addition to the programme, their highlights being O Holy Night with cornet soloist Mat Patchett, and a very energetic Snoopy’s Christmas, with the audience clapping and coming in right on cue with “Merry Christmas My Friend!”.

The concert ended with both choirs and band combining for a robust delivery of And The Glory of the Lord from Messiah by Handel, and a powerful medley of carols entitled A Christmas Fantasy. The evening was compered by Tony Binns, who introduced the items with interesting background information.

18th June 2017 Concert Review by Marion Poole of the Otago Daily Times

Outstanding Delivery by Choir and Guests

A near-capacity house was wowed by the wonderful sound of the Royal Dunedin Male Choir with guests under the direction of Richard Madden and Daniel Cooper with accompanying pianists Linda Folland and Lynley Fuglestad and organist David Burchell at the town hall yesterday afternoon.

Compere Tony Binns made up for the lack of programme notes.

The sound produced by the choir is certainly more vocally agile and more harmonically attuned than in the past.

The items chosen for the performance also asked for more technical and emotional import from the choir than in previous years.

The choir is also to be commended for its choice of guest soloists and for the familial context it maintains via awards and personal anecdotes for its performers and audience.

Boy soprano Grayson Westgate is already a seasoned performer. Mike Batt's song Bright Eyes highlighted the strength of Westgate's clear voice across a wide range and that he can attain nigh perfect diction.

The Christchurch Liedertafel Male Voice Choir showed the strength of individual voices in Irving Berlin's Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning and their capacity for comedy.

Pianist Emmanuel Wong's performance of four numbers by Rachmaninoff and Kaputsin presented a taste of his superb talent. His delivery and phrasing were exceptionally good. We wish him well for his future.

Graeme Downie, from the Leidertafel choir, made a good fist of None but the Lonely Heart.

Special highlights also included the numbers given by the combined choirs. The harmonies in Malotte's The Lord's Prayer were well achieved.

The final chorus of the Battle Cry of the Republic was truly rousing. Members of the Kaikorai Brass Band were also a welcome addition to the choirs' sound. The encore What Would I do Without My Music was widely appreciated.

Pianist with a great future

Otago Daily Times article on pianist Emmanuel Wong

I do Like to Play Beside the Seaside

We never expected to have this effect on one of our concert-goers, however, we all love a good song and the fun that it brings.

Japanese choir leader honoured

By Hayley Gastmeier of the Wairarapa Times Age 7th January 2017

Web link

Reporter Link

A Japanese conductor with strong links to Featherston has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List for his work on building relations between Japan and New Zealand.

Hiroshi Masumoto was named an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to New Zealand-Japan relations and music.

Mr Masumoto is the founder and musical director of Chor Farmer, a Tokyo-based male choir which has been touring Australasia bi-annually for over 30 years.

Since 2000, Mr Masumoto has been directly responsible for touring the choir to New Zealand, including to Featherston, in memory of those who died in World War II.

It was during the choir’s visit in 2000 that they learned of Featherston’s links with Japan.

Featherston was home to a prisoner of war camp for captured Japanese servicemen during WWII.

The camp is remembered for the 1943 incident in which 48 Japanese prisoners and a New Zealander guard were killed.

Mr Masumoto arranges the music the choir performs, which includes Maori songs.

Choir members pay their own way and are billeted with New Zealand families, and the concerts have a nominal entry charge with all proceeds going to the host organisation.

The tours have therefore not been for commercial gain, but rather to develop relations between Japan and New Zealand communities.

The choir has provided a grant to the Featherston Heritage Museum and helped source a grand piano for the Featherston Anzac Hall.

Former South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples, who was also named in the New Year’s Honour’s List, said she “strongly supported” the application for Masumoto and “was thrilled to bits” to learn he had been named.

“To be honest I was as pleased for him as I was for myself,” said Mrs Staples, who became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

She said “the choir had gone a long way to building bridges” between the two countries.

When the choir visited Featherston last year, Mrs Staples surprised Mr Masumoto and choir members by making them all honorary citizens of South Wairarapa.

Chor Farmer October 2018

50th Anniversary Concert on 20th January 2018 to be held in Tokyo

Please see their web site for more details

They will make a goodwill tour to New Zealand and Australia with a concert in Dunedin in September 2018. More detail closer to that time.

Chor Farmer October 2016

The CHOR FARMER choir was formed as a Male Voice Choir from the Tokyo University of Agriculture in 1967 by Hiroshi Masumoto. They are a first rate choir and carry out performances in Australia and New Zealand as well as in their home country. They have made Goodwill Tours to Australasia every two years since 1977 and they always sing at the two towns, Cowra and Featherston, where Japanese prisoners were kept during the war. Their beautiful music is a balm of peace today.

They sing in many languages and specialise in Schubert as well as Japanese.

Their conductor, Mr Hiroshi Masumoto, has made many fine arrangements of songs, which he has kindly allowed our choir to use in our own concerts.

They have made several CDs and you can learn more here

Chor Farmer October 2016
Knox Church October 2016
Both choirs October 2016, Peter Keddell conducting

Christmas 2016 Concert Review

"Young guests stars of varied programme"

Monday 5th December 2016

Otago Daily Times review by Mike Crowl

The young guests in last night's Royal Dunedin Male Choir concert were the highlights of the programme. Jesse Hanan sang four short "hits" from the mid20th century, accompanied by Tom McGrath, and joined the choir in two other songs. The clarity, beauty and strength of tone from this 11-year-old boy soprano would be hard to beat.

Harry Grigg, one of the country's up-and-coming young tenors, sang two slower songs with considerable beauty, warmth and musicality. His last piece, a fast musical comedy number, Tonight at Eight, in which he combined humorous body language with outstanding diction, was a real hit.

In the second half, the local trio - two violinists, Josephine and Victoria Williamson and pianist Jingyi Mi - played two movements from Moszkowski's Suite for Two Violins and Piano. The playing was lyrical, energetic and confident, and the three worked excellently as an ensemble.

David McAtamney was the final guest. He seemed not quite at ease in his first choice, the tongue-twisting Largo al factotum, but brought the audience onside with Because I was shy, and Ol’ Man River.

The choir itself was most cohesive in two songs from the second half: I'll be home for Christmas, and The Impossible Dream. Here there was real warmth and smoothness in the tone, and no straining in any of the parts. Some of the other pieces seemed to require the tenors to lift themselves above their comfortable range.

The arrangement of In the Bleak Mid-Winter was lovely. Jesse Hanan again shone as soloist here, the men's voices winding around his line like a soft and wintry wind. And the opening piece of the evening, Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit, with Grant Aitcheson as the soloist, was beautifully co-ordinated.

Mid-Winter 2016 Concert Review

“Full sound, fine guest artists a real treat”

Dunedin Town Hall, Sunday 19 June 2016

One of the best things about the Royal Dunedin Male Choir’s Sunday afternoon concert was the full bodied sound from the choir, even when holding their own against David Burchall at top throttle on “Norma”.

Furthermore, the tenors had plenty of volume not only when combined with the rest of the choir, but also when singing alone, as in Craig Courtney’s There Will I Be.

Richard Madden appears to have strengthened the choir since I last heard them a year ago. The result is that big strong pieces such as Martin Shaw’s With a Voice of Singing, Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is our God (in which the contrapuntal work was very tidy), Emrys Jones’ setting of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, and their final number, What Would I do without My Music all came off very well. On the gentler side, there was some lovely singing in The Water is Wide and Pokarekare ana.

Soprano Sophie Sparrow and three instrumentalists, Sandra Crawshaw, Jonty Schmidt and Laura Barton were the guest artists performing between the choir items. Crawshaw not only gave an excellent performance of Fritz Kriesler’s Liebesleid in Rachmaninoff’s virtuoso transcription but acted as accompanist for the other soloists. Jonty Schmidt’s clean and clear oboe playing was a delight, both in Ennio Morricone’s romantic piece, Gabriel’s Oboe and in the more stylish Allegro and Bouree by Handel.

Laura Barton performed Saint Saëns’ popular Havavaise. This was technically accomplished, but could perhaps have done with just a little more fire and passion. She also played Kreisler’s well known Liebestfreud. Sparrow is possessed of a wonderful voice throughout the range, and exhibited this in three songs: the Polish Folk Song, Mother Dear, Lehar’s Vilia, and lastly Il Baccio.

(Reviewer - Mike Crowl)

The choir is shown in fine voice in their Mid-Winter concert - photograph taken by the Otago Daily Times and reproduced by their kind Permission

“Choir in particularly good form”

Dunedin Town Hall, Monday 30 November 2015

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir and its guest artists presented an excellent concert in the Dunedin Town Hall last evening, with a variety programme containing something for everybody to enjoy.

The choir was in particularly good form, conducted by Richard Madden with accompaniments from Linda Folland and David Burchell (organ). Highlights included a very passionate rendition of Lloyd Webber favourite All I Ask of You, Memory, a beautifully calm and serene Austrian carol Still, Still, Still and On Christmas Night where a palate of contrasting nuance enhanced the mostly well-balanced harmonies.

Two absolutely magnificent pianoforte items came from Pascal Harris - Impromptu in G Flat Major D899 No 3 by Schubert and a Rachmaninov etude (Op 39 No 5). Both were breath-taking in their passion and virtuosic interpretation. Matthew Scadden (aged 20), having already achieved singing and acting recognition locally and abroad, performed two unaccompanied J.S. Bach “violin standards”. In total contrast were Tiny Dancer (Elton John) and Life on Mars (David Bowie), sung by talented contemporary singer Molly Devine with Tom Lord at the piano.

Individual band items from Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass (conductor Norman Thorn) showed versatility with contrast of style and exhilarating timbres, particularly in the very brisk The Bugler’s Holiday and a superb delivery of O Holy Night featuring solo cornet (Matthew Padgett).

One Faith, One Hope, One Lord with choir, band and organ ended the programme with strong statement of loyalty and promise.

Interesting background details to items were provided by compere Tony Binns, and during the evening a citation and the choir’s highest award (a Golden Lyre) was presented to second tenor member H. Robert Wilson.

(Reviewer Elizabeth Bouman, Otago Daily Times)

Choir Pars

November 2015


Regretfully, due to the deaths of three Choir members since our last concert, our roll has now dropped to 68. We warmly welcome Albie Warner to the 1st. Basses and trust that his stay will be a long and enjoyable one. We are always looking for new members, so if you enjoy singing, can hold a tune, and enjoy male camaraderie, join us next February at our weekly Monday rehearsals at the Caversham Baptist Church, corner of South Road and Surrey Street at 7.15 pm.

Service Recognition

We congratulate the following members on receiving service awards during 2015. 35 years – Robert Storm; 30 years – Gavin Logie; 20 years – Brian Foley; 15 years – Grant Aitchison, Bob Macfarlane, Dave Patrick, Peter Russell, Peter Stapleton; 10 years – Jim Muir, Lindsay Neilson.

Choir Activities

The Choir was honoured to participate in a church service at First Church of Otago on 30 August to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Dunedin City Corporation. On 18 October we took part in a worship service at East Taieri Presbyterian Church. We have also presented two concerts during the year for the residents of the Ryman Healthcare Villages of Frances Hodgkins and Yvette Williams in recognition of them being the Choir’s Principal Sponsor. We will close this year as usual by singing at Ross Home early December.


25th October 2016 WJ (Jack) Bosworth: It was with shock we learnt of the sudden passing of our Treasurer Jack Bosworth. Jack had been a stalwart of the Choir as a second tenor and had contributed with his accounting skills and access to his premises for meetings and programme distribution prior to concerts. Jack contributed over 40 years of his life to the RDMC He was a Trustee and Vice-president as well as our Treasurer. The Choir dedicated its performance of The Lord is My Shepherd at its Christmas concert to Jack. He is sadly missed and we offer our condolences to the family.

“Entertaining programme from Choir”

Dunedin Town Hall, Monday 22 June 2015

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir’s performance at the Town Hall on Sunday Afternoon was strong with good articulation in both words and music and generally solid intonation. The big numbers such as the hymns were stirring and sometimes spine-tingling, the dynamics ranging from the gentlest pianissimo to a full throated fortissimo. It seems to me as though the choir has come up several notches since the last time I heard them. This was a full programme, with five guest slots. Among the guests the highlight for me was the singing of James Adams and Hayley Carrick in their medley from Phantom of the Opera. If this is an example of what the coming production of this musical will be like, it will be well worth a visit. We had two jazz sequences. In the first Nick Hollamby presented some nicely laid-back items, one of them including a bit of chorus work from the audience.

He was accompanied by Doug Wright, one of Dunedin’s hidden treasures. In Wright’s own solo section, we had three incentive and technically accomplished jazz pieces — though Wright claims he is not really a jazz pianist — along with a sung version of the bluesy Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. Choir conductor Richard Madden switched hats at one point to conduct the girls’ choir, Cantus Columba from Columba College. They sang three contrasting pieces with rich and warm harmonies (the altos were particularly striking in the Slavonic Svete Tihiy). An arrangement of When I Fall in Love with a solo from Serina Waterworth was especially lovely. Julia Moss-Pearson, fresh from performances in The Magic Flute, sang Musetta’s Waltz Song from La Boheme along with two other items. Her voice is very strong in the upper register.

(Reviewer - Mike Crowl)

“Men’s choir warms up nicely after halftime”

Dunedin Town Hall, Sunday 29 June 2014

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir shifted its midwinter concert to a Sunday afternoon this year and yesterday presented a variety programme in Dunedin Town Hall.

Richard Madden conducted, with accompanists Linda Folland and David Burchell (organist).

After the excellent choral rendition of the national anthem and an enthusiastic There’s No Business Like Show Business, I found the choir’s contribution to the first half of the programme a tad below par, with tenor intonation and lack of articulation in diction, detracting from repertoire such as Beatles for Choirs (a medley to mark the anniversary of the Beatles’ visit to the town hall 50 years ago), Flow Gently Sweet Afton and Riversong.

After halftime, the choir had renewed vitality. This Little Light of Mine was bright and convincing and Dvorak’s Goin’ Home achieved good balance and passion. Cantate Domino, a Giuseppe Pitoni 17th-century chant, was disciplined, precise and built to a full-bodied final cadence.

Variety came with guest artists: Bass Samson Setu sang a bracket of songs, showcasing his rich velvety bass register, and cellist Sean Stenhouse contributed the beautifully lyrical Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch. On My Lips Every Kiss is Like Wine (Lehar) and Willow Song in Sophie Sparrow’s contribution were outstanding. Her pure-toned, unforced top notes had strength and projection and drew long applause.

Pianist Boen Deng (12) played Mozart’s Fantasie in D Minor and two duets from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite with teacher Tom McGrath. McGrath accompanied all the guest artists and Peter Stapleton.

(Review by Elizabeth Bouman in the Otago Daily Times, 30 June 2014)