Our Next Concert

The Blake Project

Settings of William Blake’s poems by Berkahn & Vaughan Williams; and other music of his time.

Directed by Jonathan Berkahn

7-30pm Saturday 16 September 2017
Wesley Methodist Church
75 Taranaki Street, Wellington

Barbara Paterson ~ soprano
Thomas Nikora ~ accompanist

Tickets from Choir members
Door sales available
Email: books@pgpl.co.nz to pay online

$20, $15
(Children 12 and under free)

Click to Download Programme Booklet PDF

About this concert
This is the first time Jonathan Berkahn’s suite of eight settings of poems by William Blake have been performed together.

The issues of inequality, poverty and child deprivation that Blake wrote about in London 200 years ago are still relevant today in New Zealand, as we approach our next general election.

“I have for many years been fascinated by William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, by their memorable images, and the lucid and uncompromising language of the poems. The two books are, in a sense, parodies of each other: a reminder that there is always more than one way of looking at a thing,” says composer Jonathan Berkahn

“Two years ago the Festival Singers performed a concert celebrating the animal world: The Peaceable Kingdom, and I took the opportunity to set three of the best-known poems: The Lamb, The Tyger, and Night. Now we have a collection of eight ready to sing for you. The texts and music vary greatly in mood, from the coarse fun of The Little Vagabond to the tenderness of On Another’s Sorrow, to the heartbreaking bitterness of London, and the still-topical cry of Holy Thursday:
‘Is this a holy thing to see / In a rich and fruitful land,— / Babes reduced to misery, / Fed with cold and usurous hand?’

“To journey through Blake’s poems is to journey through Blake’s London, a city of wealth and poverty, green fields and cold stone churches.”

“For this reason, in the concert – which we have called The Blake Project – you will also hear music of Blake’s time: respectable church music from the cathedrals, secular part-songs from the glee-clubs, instrumental music from the concert hall, and possibly a Methodist hymn or two. We will, of course, also sing the best-known Blake setting of all, Parry’s Jerusalem. And then, after an hour or two spent in William Blake’s London, you will be able to return safely to Wellington, 2017.”


Looking for a friendly choir for 2017?

Here’s a short interview with Megan about being part of Festival Singers. Our contact details are at the end of the video.

Here’s a short interview with Joe about being part of Festival Singers and one of his recent concert highlights. Our contact details are at the end of the video.



Diana, who has been a member of the choir since 1982, talks with Philip about why Festival Singers is special for her.


Here’s a short interview with our talented young accompanist Thomas Nikora.


 2017 Programme

Festival Singers has an exciting 2017 planned.  Here is a quick summary:

  • First rehearsal:  7-9 p.m. on Monday, 13 February 2017, at Newlands Christian Assembly, 126 Newlands Road, Newlands. All welcome.
  • 5–6 May 2017. We take part in the NZ Choral Federation’s weekend workshop performing Donizetti’s Mass in G Minor
  • 18 June 2017. Our concert “Sunday at the Opera.”
  • 16 September 2017. Our concert of poems by William Blake set to music by our musical director Jonathan Berkahn.
  • 10 December 2017. An evening Lessons and Carols service.

We will add more details as they are finalised.

For more information, please contact:

See you soon at a rehearsal or concert!

Philip Garside (Secretary)


Festival Singers celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a
Grand Reunion Concert
on Saturday 15 October 2016 at 8pm.


Music was rehearsed during Saturday’s gathering and performed that evening when past members from around the country reunited with present members of Festival Singers.

Conductors from the choir’s four decades were featured: Guy Jansen, Rosemary Russell, Jonathan Berkahn, and current accompanist Thomas Nikora (who is also Cantoris’ Musical Director).

We perform works including the John Rutter’s Gloria & Blessing, Jonathan Berkahn’s Te Deum, and Zadok The Priest, The Hallelujah Chorus along with other favourites.


Order our 2015 CD People of the Light now


$25.00 each + p&p for 1 or 2 copies,

$20.00 each  + p&p for 3,4 or 5 copies,

All prices include postage

Click the buttons below to order securely via PayPal.
You can use your credit card and don’t need to be a PayPal account holder.

New Zealand Orders

1 copy $29.00
 2 copies $54.00
  3 copies $65.50
4 copies $85.50
5 copies $105.50

Overseas Orders

Overseas orders exclude GST
and include airmail postage

1 copy NZ$33.00

If you prefer to pay by sending us a cheque, please click here to
download the PDF Order form

About the CD

People of the Light features music which is patterned after the church year.

The Advent Song, Introit, God is with us and This is why tell of waiting in hope, angels singing and the sure knowledge that God will never leave us.
A setting of James Mongomery’s Go to dark Gethsemane leads into The Third Day cantata.
The cantata tells the Easter story from the cross, through low Saturday, to finding the empty tomb, Jesus’ appearance in the locked room and giving the great commission. The work ends with a glorious finale that proclaims, “Christ is Risen, Alleluia!”
Next is Such Love, a choral setting of words from 1 John: 3. This is followed by three instrumental pieces that reflect Jonathan’s love of Celtic music.
Also included are Jonathan’s settings of the traditional Magnificat and Nunc dimittis. The Magnificat features a free-form melody sung by soprano soloist Sharon Yearsley, who soars over an exciting rhythmic, pulsing chant by the choir.
The CD closes with a Blessing based on Psalm 27.

Throughout, Jonathan’s music deftly weaves melodies around sacred words in ways that enhance and give new meaning to the text. Listeners will be drawn into the music and find their spirits uplifted.

Founded in 1976, Festival Singers of Wellington has a tradition of encouraging young performers, of bringing new music to our audiences and of always singing to the glory of God. People of the Light continues this tradition.

Order our other CDs


Spirited People (2007)

1 copy within NZ $24.00

1 copy Overseas $28.00


Tell My People (2000)

1 copy within NZ $24.00

1 copy Overseas $28.00


Enthusiastic review of Feliz Navidad Concert on Middle C

Feliz_Navidad_a_South_American_Christmas_640w“…a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s music making, where the director had very skilfully put together a programme offering a glimpse into a whole world of South American musical tradition that most of the audience would, I imagine, have been previously quite unaware of. The concert was built around the central theme of Christmas, yet it spanned an astonishing breadth of styles, all of which the musicians took easily in their stride. The enthusiasm of both singers and players was infectious, and it caught up everyone in an evening that was a refreshing celebration of this great Christian festival.”

Click here for the rest of the review


Introducing the Choir

Festival_Singers_Group_Dec_2015_1000w_72dpiFestival Singers is a Wellington-based community choir of around 40 members, established in 1976. Our repertoire ranges from larger classical works with orchestra through to smaller art and folk songs.

We like to seek out music that is not often performed e.g. the masses for choir, soloists and two organs by Saint Saens and Widor and last year, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. Most years we have collaborated with another choir – last year the Wainuiomata Choir, exposing some rarely heard works by Salieri.

We also believe our local composers are very important. In 2009 we commissioned Jonathan Berkahn to write a Cantata, The Third Day, for the choir. In 2011 we presented this 50 minute work for choir, soloists and band again, in Palmerston North and Waikanae, along with varied folk songs from around the world.

Our members joined the NZ Choral Federation workshop on 11 & 12 May 2012 to learn and sing Verdi’s Requiem.

The Festival Singers has a Christian basis and particularly enjoys singing music of a spiritual nature, although not exclusively of course. The choir is available to sing at weddings, funerals and in local churches.


The choir is registered under the Charities Act 2005. Donations made to the choir are tax-deductible in New Zealand.


Site designed and maintained by Philip Garside: www.pgpl.co.nz

Copyright Festival Singers 2009-2013


4 Responses to Home

  1. Neil Gillon says:

    Simply wish to give my best wishes to the choir. I was a member and committee member prior to 1998.

  2. 4granb says:

    I was given People of the Light for Mother’s Day.It is a lovely production and I am enjoying the music and words.Thank you for making it.I am a long time fan of Festival Singers from the Guy Jansen days and pleased to see you are still going strong and making music for us to enjoy.

  3. Neil Gillon says:

    Hi Festival Singers. I’m sorry that I didn’t know about the reunion. I would have come

    Previous member and Secretary and life member

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