In 1965, 153 members of the Christchurch Harmonic Society Choir traveled to England to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Arts Festival. The extraordinary event was organised by the impresario Ian Hunter, otherwise known as 'Mr. Festival' and it featured performers from all over the Commonwealth performing in four British centres and in some of the world’s most iconic musical venues.
Clarissa Dunn spoke to the Music Director William Hawkey and some of the choir members about this highlight of their musical lives.
They were inspired, delighted and even shocked by aspects of the experience, which included working closely with conductors Malcolm Sargent and Charles Groves and with William Walton on his own piece, Belshazzar’s Feast.