Choir members keep it casual

Members of the Saints All Male Choir at their weekly practise in Invercargill last week.

FOR Dean Addie, good ideas often come while partaking in a beer or two.

One of those ideas came to fruition about eight years ago while some friends were sitting in the sun enjoying a few drinks.

“We thought, we tell our kids to do the uncomfortable stuff to get out of their comfort zone and we were thinking about what’s the most uncomfortable thing we could do.

“Someone came up with singing in public.”

So it was the Saints All Male Choir was formed, after a letter was sent home with pupils of St Theresa’s School in Invercargill.

Seven turned up the first practise night, now the choir has about 50 members.

Each Wednesday the men gather at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill for an hour’s singing.

They were initially conducted by Kate McIlwrick but now it’s Jo Ward who tries to get the group singing in unison.

There is a bit of banter – on this particular night Addie and a few of his choir members are allowed to sing My Girl three times while the others hold a longer note.

“We get to do it three times because we’re better,” Addie quips to the others.

“It’s our star quality,” fellow choir member Dave Simpson replies.

For Addie, the choir has two reasons for existing.

The first is to provide music lessons to eight children a year who show talent or promise – they fundraise and even get paid for their performances, raising about $6000 to $8000 a year.

The second is to provide a space for men, to gather have a few laughs and then a chat after the singing is done – usually over a beer.

“It’s about our own mental health.”

There are police officers, business owners, teachers, a gardener, IT specialists, a lawyer and a helicopter pilot all in the group.

Addie admits while they are still uncomfortable singing in public, there is a benefit of being in a group – “safety in numbers”.

For Ward it’s about ensuring the singers have fun but says you need patience.

“They’re good fun, you’ve got to have a good sense of humour,” she said.

  • Anyone interested in joining the choir could send a message through the choir’s Facebook page.