​Elaine Harmer

Kathleen Osborne, who opened our eyes us to a new world – to Schubert lieder, madrigals and spirituals – and she had us performing Britten’s ‘Christmas Cantata’ and the like in the town hall every Christmas with the big Christchurch choirs. Our final glory was sailing to Wellington to sing as part of a youth concert in honour of the Queen Mother.

Later, I was part of the young idealistic movement that aimed to live self-sufficiently on the land. Consequently, as we didn’t have any money, this meant living in isolated places where land was cheaper. I had seven children and I hunted out all sorts of songs and sang to them all the time; and wherever we lived, I always managed to find a singing group to join, driving long distances to get the chance. Of course, the groups meant contact with like-minded people, so they served the other aspect of singing – the social side, which is so important. As we were all isolated, we always used to say that the groups were what stopped us all from going mad! I made lifelong friendships and had so much fun.

Now I live in Marlborough and am enjoying belonging to a choir again. I’ve got to know more new good friends, and I know just how very, very lucky we are to have Robert. Fingers crossed, I’m hoping to be singing in the choir for a long time to come.

Wendy Glover

David Brown • Janet Clarke • Nanette Clunies-Ross • Adrienne de Boo • Roger Good • Margaret Hastings • Shirley Kilgour • Bev Lucas • Rien Wagenvoort • Ian Walker

This is a page where we will be introducing some of the many interesting people who make up our choir. Let us know if you know of someone with a special talent/story! 

Derek Harding

Hayley Solomon

I was born and brought up in the South East of England. Since my earliest memories I have been surrounded by music and have developed a passion for all forms of music but particularly vocal. I joined a newly-formed church choir as a seven-year-old treble and I have belonged to some form of singing group since then. Secondary school enabled me to keep singing through adolescence and my voice breaking. Pantomime gave me the opportunity to broaden my experience and Gilbert & Sullivan opened the doors to light opera.

Ros Henry is a North Islander by birth but a South Islander by choice, relocating from Christchurch to Blenheim in 2015. As a child she was dragged along to singing competitions by her mother until she became old and stroppy enough to put her foot down. Apart from being in a school choir she had done no other public singing until an ad promising ‘no auditions necessary’ caught her eye and she joined the Marlborough Singers in 2017, thinking that this would be a good way for a newcomer to meet some of the locals. So it has proved and she is loving it. She sings alto, usually more successfully when standing next to someone who knows which note to hit.

Ros was in book publishing for over 45 years, as an editor in an international company and later as a partner in a publishing company she formed with her husband in 1984. She still edits the occasional book and has been author and co-author of books on poker, genealogy and a family history. She enjoys playing bridge and is a voracious reader and a keen vegetable gardener.

She can be seen lurking in the back row in the photo above.

Ros Henry

The Marlborough Singers

Hayley, who has been with the Marlborough Singers for about three years (a very distinctive member of the choir), has just had a new collection of short stories published – Under the Shade of the Feijoa Trees and other stories. It is not generally known that she is a much-published and award-winning author and poet. Most of her earlier novels were published under the Zebra regency romance label, NY, before she switched from mass market genre writing to fantasy, JAFF*, poetry and literary short stories. Her books, written under the name Hayley Ann Solomon, are all available through online bookstores – Amazon, Fishpond, Barnes and Noble etc – in print and electronic editions. Check them out!

Meet our Members

I’m from the 1950’s post-war generation, born into a New Zealand that had very modest cultural expectations. However, my parents always valued music: my mother collected children’s songs and sang to us, and my father was involved in school choirs throughout his career. When I was seven, a teacher told us a story about Johnny Crotchet, Mother Minim, Grandfather Semibreve, and the merry Quaver Sisters. I still remember the enchantment of this, and when they announced the formation of a school choir, I was in! I was in choirs ever after. At high school we had a wonderful music mistress, 

I am a born and bred Marlburian. I have always enjoyed singing, but am not that confident; I have spent more time acting on stage than singing.  So I was delighted when a friend invited me to attend the Marlborough Singers, saying that there was no audition.

Herewith my late choral singing career has been launched. My early choral singing career was with St Christopher’s Sunday School Choir, Redwoodtown School choir (inaugural choir for the primary school music festivals) and Marlborough Girls' College choir. (We sang at a couple of staff weddings.

I remember a musical childhood. My grandparents played the piano and violin when we visited, my mother played the piano, and I remember visiting friends’ places where we had a good sing-song around the family piano. Alas I managed only eight piano lessons before going the speech and drama way. My mother said I sang flat. She was probably right, but now with the friendly assistance of fellow choir members and YouTube I reckon I am on the improve. I have ‘quantity rather than quality’, but am working on it. It is a rewarding challenge.

Research shows that singing in a choir exercises the brain, improves breathing, boosts immune function, and boosts our sense of happiness and wellbeing by making us feel more positive. What more can you ask for? Sing on.

Blenheim Choral Society Life Members 

Your committee (l to r): Rien Wagenvoort, Kevin Murphy, Sarah Henderson, Kathryn Nicholls, Ros Henry, Vic Stewart, Margaret Hastings, Jill Merritt, Pat Parkinson, Elaine Harmer. Absent: Deborah Errington.

Following my passion, it was always a wish that I could have 'proper' singing lessons and it was in the early 1990s that the opportunity arose. That led to more choral and solo singing and I performed as Melchior in Menotti's, 'Amal and the Night Visitors', less than a month before leaving the UK for Blenheim in January, 2007.

Inevitably I looked around for a choir and joined Marlborough Singers (then Blenheim Choral Society) with whom I have sung since (except for a short break when I returned to the UK in 2008). With Marlborough Singers I enjoy the variety and opportunities to make music in good company and performing locally and across the region. I've also sung with Blenheim Musical Theatre and choirs in Nelson and Tasman and look forward to singing in Marlborough for several years to come.

Originally from South Africa, Hayley majored in English and Psychology at the University of Capetown, and completed a masters degree in librarianship through Victoria University, Wellington. Passionate about her singing, she received her Trinity Advanced Performance Certificate (Singing) last year and will be undertaking the ATCL (Singing) this year.

The mother of three grown-up sons, Hayley lives in Blenheim with her surgeon husband and ‘two fantastic parrots – one tiny and grumpy, one extra large, fluffy and full of joy’.

* JAFF = Jane Austen Fan Fiction