News and Events

Festival Singers’ Choral Workshop

For all singers!

Saturday 30 January 2021, 10am to 4pm
St Hilda’s Anglican Church,
311 The Parade, Island Bay

We learned about:

  • vocal technique
  • how to approach a choral work (looking at the Benedictus from Dvorak’s Mass in D major)
  • good posture &
  • a new composition by Jonathan Berkahn.

Sessions professionally led by:

  • William McElwee (vocal coach)
  • Emile van der Mespel (Alexander Technique specialist)
  • Ingrid Schoenfeld (musical director) &
  • Chalene Scott (musical theatre warm ups)

Sheet music was supplied. Benedictus from Dvorak’s Mass in D major, and a new piece by Jonathan Berkahn. Bring your own lunch. Morning tea provided.


From 9:30 onwards – coffee and tea

Please arrive no later than 9:50

10-10:10 Welcome

10:10 – 10:40 Physical warmup with Chalene Scott

10:40 – 11:40 How to approach a choral work – looking at the Benedictus from Dvorak’s Mass in D major led by Ingrid Schoenfeld

11:40 – 12 Morning tea

12-1 Vocal technique workshop with William McElwee

1-2 Lunch (and swimming, if you want!)

2-3 Session with Emile van der Mespel, Alexander Technique specialist

3-4 Bringing it all together – workshopping a new piece written by Jonathan Berkahn – led by Ingrid Schoenfeld

About the presenters

First we have the wonderful Chalene Scott, who has a Bachelor’s in Performing Arts but more importantly, has been doing theatre for almost all her life. She has done musical direction for many musicals, as well as devised movement and theatre pieces, and is excited to bring a tiny bit of theatricality to your day. She’ll be leading a physical warm-up to start us off.

William McElwee is in demand as a choral conductor and vocal coach, praised for his ability to get outstanding vocalism from choirs and to stretch them musically.  He has recently returned to Wellington from the United Kingdom, where he was Musical Director of the Collegium Singers in Taunton and the Yeovil Chamber Choir, Assistant Musical Director of Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir, Organist at Holy Family Church Honiton, and Singing Teacher at The Gryphon School in Sherborne, while maintaining a private teaching studio and singing as a Deputy Lay Clerk at Exeter Cathedral and Buckfast Abbey.

William trained as an operatic soloist at the New Zealand School of Music and New Zealand Opera School.  Recent highlights of his performing repertoire are the bass solos in Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St Matthew Passion and the title role in The Marriage of Figaro.  Alongside his PGDip in Performance Voice, he holds a BSc in Mathematics and a BA in English and Latin with Honours in English Language.

Emile van der Mespel is a very experienced, fully registered Alexander Technique teacher.

Ingrid Schoenfeld is the musical director of Festival Singers.

What to bring

  • Your glorious self (and your singer friends – it’s open to everyone)
  • $30 cash, if you haven’t booked via Eventbrite
  • A packed lunch
  • A soft pencil and eraser
  • A swimsuit and towel if you’d like to swim at lunch

Email Philip Garside for more information.

See you there.


Guy E Jansen PhD (1935–2019)

Guy conducts a rehearsal at our 40th Anniversary Renuion
at Khandallah Presbyterian Church in 2016. (Photo: Quentin Christie)

In 2019 we reflected on the legacy of Guy Jansen PhD (1935–2019) founder of our greater Wellington community choir in 1976. He aimed to foster and encourage all ages to sing and support the best of Christian music styles, and to encourage and develop new music for the future.


Phone 475 8855 or
email to reserve your tickets


2018 Movie Fundraiser

(We will have another movie fundraiser in May 2019)

An American in Paris – A New Musical

4:30pm for 5.00pm start Sunday  27 May 2018
The Lighthouse, 52 Beach Street, Petone


Tickets from Choir members
or email Philip:

This film of the stunning, award-winning West End
stage show has just been released.
it is the story of a young American soldier who falls in love
with a French woman in post WW2 Paris.
Featuring George & Ira Gershwin’s music and lyrics,
along with dynamic dance sequences.


SingFest 2018

Festival Singers was one of 8 community choirs who gathered
on Saturday 7 April 2018 St Peter’s Church, Ruahine Street, Palmerston North, for SingFest 2018
***Special thanks to Kate Love Photographer for the photos***


Ingrid conducting and Jonathan on piano, lead us singing Awake the Harp – from Haydn’s Creation. (Photo – Kate Love Photographer)


We were one of eight choirs who assembled at St Peter’s Church, Ruahine Street Palmerston North on 7 April 2018. (Photo – Kate Love Photographer)

2017 Christmas Concert


Come Celebrate Christmas

Music included:
Mozart’s charming Pastoral Mass in G major, K. 140, and works by J S Bach, William Billings, J Barnby, Edward Elgar, Jonathan Berkhan and Zoltan Kodaly.

Directed by Jonathan Berkahn

7-00pm Sunday 10 December 2017
St Barnabas Anglican Church
35 Box Hill, Khandallah

Thomas Nikora ~ accompanist
The Festival Players
& special guests
The Northern Chorale.

 A koha for Downtown Community Ministry was collected

Click here to download a PDF of the programme booklet for the concert.

Click the picture below for a video clip of Festival Singers and The Northern Chorale singing Jonathan Berkahn’s lively “Behold, the joyful day is nigh” as part of our 2017 Christmas concert.

(Thanks to Alexander Garside of Garside Imaging for the sound and video recording and editing.)



NZ Choral Federation workshop 2017

On 5 & 6 May 2017 several Festival Singers members took part in the NZ Choral Federation’s workshop learning and then performing Donizetti’s Mass in G Minor.

Wonderfully led by conductor David Squire and accompanied by our own Jonathan Berkahn. Thomas Nikora also helped out leading sectionals.

Below are quick snaps of the basses, tenors and sopranos (top) and altos (bottom)


On 30 April 2017 we had a successful fundraiser film evening watching this wonder full documentary.

The Music of Strangers –Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble

About the film

 “The intersection of cultures is where new things emerge.”
 Yo-Yo Ma, cellist and founder of the Silk Road Ensemble

Watch the official trailer here:

Over the past 16 years, an extraordinary group of musicians has come together to celebrate the universal power of music. Named for the ancient trade route linking Asia, Africa and Europe, The Silk Road Ensemble, an international collective created by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, exemplifies music’s ability to blur geographical boundaries, blend disparate cultures and inspire hope for both artists and audiences.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble follows an ever-changing line up of performers drawn from the ensemble’s more than 50 instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers as they gather in locations across the world, exploring the ways art can both preserve traditions and shape cultural evolution.

Blending performance footage, personal interviews and archival film, director Morgan Neville and producer Caitrin Rogers focus on the journeys of a small group of Silk Road Ensemble mainstays from across the globe to create an intensely personal chronicle of passion, talent and sacrifice. Through these moving individual stories, the filmmakers paint a vivid portrait of a bold musical experiment and a global search for the ties that bind.

“An irresistible kaleidoscope of music and good fellowship… Finds poetry in the ability of music to bring us home again, wherever we may travel.” Moira MacDonald, The Seattle Times

“A joyous revelation, a group portrait of superb musicians from all over the world offering music as an emblem of what people can do in these fractious times when they live in concert with one another.” The Wall Street Journal




In mid-February 2015, a select group of Festival Singers, with Jonathan on piano, accompanied the groom singing his vows to his bride, at The Pines in Island Bay.




Enjoyable Fundraiser

60+ Magic_in_the_Moonlight_posterFestival Singers members and supporters enjoyed a fundraising screening of:

Magic in the Moonlight on Sunday 31 August


Light House Cinema, 52 Beach Street, Petone

Thank you for your support

The cinema staff were very helpful and accommodating and we can recommend this cinema to other groups wanting to host fundraisers.