The Royal Dunedin Male Choir 

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Interesting article in the Otago Daily Times "100 Years ago" page.

Hallelujah for the Choral Society

Dr Galway has commenced rehearsing with the Dunedin Choral Society the great oratorio, "The Messiah". This devotional oratorio has always been looked forward to with keen interest every year. The chorus is being augmented by volunteers from the Dunedin Male Choir, and will again be an efficient and well-balanced body.

The soloists are: Soprano, Miss Eva Scott; alto, Alisa Irene Hornblow; tenor, Mr Ernest Drake; bass, Mr L. Barnes, who possesses a fine baritone voice. He is at present fulfilling an engagement in England, and has met with great success.

News and Reviews

Choir fills packed cathedral with balanced variety of songs

Royal Dunedin Male Choir 400th Concert

St Paul’s Cathedral

Sunday, June 11 2023

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir presented an excellent concert in a well-filled St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday afternoon.

This choir was established over 130 years ago, and their 400th performance was possibly the best I have heard from them.

With about 35 members, conductor John Buchanan had them paying great attention to detail, resulting in clarity of diction and well-balanced blending, with a united awareness of musicianship and dynamic demands.

Accompanists were Linda Folland and David Burchell.

The choir opened with an arrangement of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s famous The Lost Chord, followed by two numbers from their early music archives — The Trumpeter, and a close harmony arrangement by Robert Sterling of It Is Well With My Soul.

Other choir numbers were a traditional Samoan lullaby Moemoe Pepe, an arrangement of You Raise Me Up, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, traditional Carrickfergus and a stunning performance of You Do Not Walk Alone, by contemporary United States composer Elaine Hagenberg.

The audience was invited to join in for the chorus lines of Flanders & Swann’s The Hippopotamus Song, and several retired choir members were invited to leave the audience and join the ranks for Go Now In Peace.

Variety came from guest performers. Violinist Skyla Murray gave a superb delivery of unaccompanied Bach in sonata for Violin Solo No 2 in A Minor.

Two young sopranos, Rosie Achinvole and Rosie McAllister (accompanied by Olivia Pike), each sang two songs then combined in a Vivaldi duet, Laudamus Te. All are University of Otago music students.

The Logan Park Jazz Band, normally directed by Nick Cornish but on this occasion by Bill Martin, contributed a medley of Easy Pickins, Tangerine and Cold Sweat.

This most enjoyable event concluded with Billy Joel’s Goodnight, My Angel.

Male Choir backed by Brilliant Organ

Royal Dunedin Male Choir

St Paul’s Cathedral

Monday, December 13, 2021


Royal Dunedin Male Choir ended their year with a performance in St Paul’s Cathedral on Monday evening.

The hour-and-a-half programme was just the right length for the large attendance of mainly older audience members. It included an excellent local soloist and was live-streamed, a first for this choir and also its first concert performance in the cathedral.

After opening with the national anthem, the choir (musical director John Buchanan) launched into a strong rendition of Festival Piece on Sine Nomine by Vaughan Williams, and the popular Anthem, from Chess. Both were enhanced with organ accompaniment from David Burchell.

Burchell also accompanied the short anthem Torches (Joubert), but the real highlight was his virtuosity when accompanying the choir in a magnificently elaborate organ arrangement of Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Other choral numbers included a traditional fast-paced and jolly Catalan Carol Fum, Fum, Fum, all time favourites The Road to Mandalay, Portrait of my Love and a calm lullaby by D. Forrest entitled There is Faint Music.

Traditional French carol Whence is that Goodly Fragrance arranged in several parts was challenging to perform and a bit untidy in places, but generally the choir was in very good form.

Guest artist was local soprano Erica Paterson, superbly accompanied by Sharon McLennan. Dunedin nurtures a number of young singers who before Covid usually flew the nest for international studies, but furthering Paterson’s vocal career is currently on hold. She filled the spacious cathedral with five popular solos, highlights being a brilliant performance of the operatic aria Song to the Moon (Dvorak), and O Holy Night.

Pianist Linda Folland was presented with a prestigious Golden Lyre award, marking 30 years of dedicated service as the choir’s “Resident Accompanist”.

Together with Sharon McLennan, she responded with popular piano duets: an attractive arrangement of Over the Rainbow and a jazzed-up version for two of Fly Me to the Moon.

Audience participation in O Come All Ye Faithful ended this enjoyable pre-Christmas event.

2021 Annual General Meeting

The 2021 AGM took place on Monday 12th April.

Please Click Here for the Minutes

Regulars enjoy first concert of year

ODT Review by Elizabeth Bouman, 9th December 2020

The Royal Dunedin Male Choir’s concert at the Dunedin Town Hall on Monday evening was enjoyed by the choir’s regular followers and patrons/ Despite being December, because of Covid restrictions it was the choir’s first concert for the year and also its first under new musical director John Buchanan MNZM, who also compered.

During the evening Frances Brodie was presented with flowers and farewelled after 22 years as deputy accompanist.

The programme began with the organ accompanying a robust rendition of "With a Voice of Singing", followed by two traditional spirituals arranged for duo pianist accompaniment (Linda Folland and Sharon MacLennan) by H. Helvey – "I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing" and "This Little Light of Mine". Ideal repertoire for this choir and good balance and tone were achieved.

The choir numbers 40 at present and is performing with good blend, intonation and reasonable clarity of diction.

Among other items were a traditional English carol, "On Christmas Night", which built to an impressive climax, and another Helvey arrangement with duo pianist accompaniment, "Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day".

Three pieces from pianist Sharon McLennan were an early keyboard sonata by Scarlatti, B Flat Major No 500, which displayed excellent scalic and stylistic contrapuntal technique, a pleasantly lyrical Godowsky arrangement of "Elegie" by Rameau and "Across the Vast Eternal Sky" by contemporary Swedish composer, Gjeilo.

Organist David Burchell contributed to the programme with his own arrangement of "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" (Handel), Elgar’s impressive "Imperial March" and a hymn tune by French organist Naji Hakim, which skipped along merrily with lighter organ settings. It is always thrilling to hear Norma (the organ).

"Morte Criste" (Jones) was sung with great feelings as a dedication to three choir members who have passed away recently, and a John Rutter arrangement of the doxology "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" was a perfect ending to the choir’s programme, after a lean year of public performances.

Appointment of a new Musical Director

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of John Buchanan MNZM as our Musical Director following the recent resignation of Richard Madden QSM.

John has had a long and distinguished career and has known Richard Madden most of his life. He acknowledges that he has “big shoes to fill.” Like Richard, he started singing at the age of 7 in the “Choir of St. Pauls Cathedral, Dunedin” who coincidently are performing as guest artists at our forthcoming concert on December 2nd at Dunedin Town Hall.

A quick summation of his C.V. shows that he was encouraged by Donald Byars - the choirmaster at the cathedral, to start conducting at the age of 15 working with the Choir of St. Martins Church, N.E.V. Dunedin before moving on to Teachers’ College where he gained a DipTch-Music.

He sang with St. Mary’s Cathedral choir in Auckland under Peter Godfrey for five years before moving to England teaching music for two years. During that time he conducted the local choral group as well as spending a great deal of time listening to choirs around England.

Back to teaching in NZ he again became involved in the Holy Trinity Cathedral choir in Auckland under Anthony Jennings. It was during this time that he also sang in the small vocal group Quintus who gave many concerts around the North Island as well as recording artists for the now Radio New Zealand. He was invited to conduct the 80 strong South Auckland Choral Society and was with them from 1983 - 1994. He also guest conducted the Papakura Civic Orchestra for eight years.

In 1994 he moved to Wanaka to run his own Wines and Spirits business and the following year started to conduct the Wanaka Singers, and in 1998 he was invited to conduct the Alexandra Civic Orchestra where he was Musical Director for 12 Years. In 1998 he formed what was to become the Central Otago Regional Choir. This choir was permanently established in 2004. He continued conducting the choir until the end of 2018. During this time the choir performed two main concert seasons of three concerts in Queenstown, Wanaka and Alexandra.

Other highlights were two teaching stints at Mt. Aspiring College. In 2006 after a move to Alexandra he was asked to relieve at Dunstan High School while the HOD music was on maternity leave for a year. It became a very long year as he retired from the school at the end of 2018!

While there, John conducted the school's mixed choir, “Dunstanza” growing their numbers from 15 to 85 by the time he left in 2018.

He has won many accolades during his professional career including the Dunstanza senior girls’ choir Gold Medals at Melbourne Eisteddfod in 2014; People’s Choice in the 2015 Big Sing Regional Competition and in 2017 winning a silver award and the award for the best presentation of a song in Te Reo at The Big Sing Finale in Auckland. In 2018 the Seniors Girls were invited to attend the Australian International Music Festival in Sydney where they gained a very high Silver Award

In 2017 he was invited to conduct the Roxburgh Brass Band taking them to the National championships in Wellington where they won the D grade section and Conductors award for best conductor. The following year the band went to the National Championships in Blenheim and again won the whole D grade section- a first for the band.

When John returned to Dunedin earlier this year he was invited to conduct Opera Otago’s production of Mikado. He is also very involved with the New Zealand Choral Federation and he was contracted by them to organise three musical festivals in three regions of the country.

John now lives in Dunedin with his partner Sharon McLennan.

We welcome John with much enthusiasm for the future.


The Choir has much pleasure in announcing the appointment of Judy Bellingham MNZM as it’s Patron and we look forward to a long and fruitful association with her.

After a long and distinguished international singing and teaching career we are particularly fortunate that Judy has agreed to be our Patron. In fact she has stated that “this is a most exciting time for her and she hopes too for the Choir as they gauge practical and moral support from their new Patron.”

Judy will be our Guest of Honour at our December concert where she will be introduced and welcomed by our President, Peter Keddell.