History

Southern Consort had its beginnings as a chamber choir, set up in 1980 by Professor Jack Speirs, after encouragement by founding members such as Jeanette Leigh and Maureen Smith.

Jack Speirs was the consummate musician and conductor. He breathed music, and inspired many of his fellow musicians to strive for high standards. As the conductor of the Southern Consort, he introduced audiences to a new palette of choral sounds, bringing contemporary music back from Europe by composers such as John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, and James MacMillan. Through the choir he also championed many New Zealand composers, including several composers-in-residence at Otago, and supported a number of students in learning the art of conducting. In addition, there have been many joint ventures or partnerships between the University of Otago Music Department and Southern Consort, a tradition that has continued over the last decade.

Since Jack Speirs’s time, subsequent conductors included Holly Matheson (2000–2001), Andrew Crooks (2002), Maureen Smith (2003–2006) and current director Daniel Kelly (2006–present). Our patron is Honor McKeller.

The choir celebrated its 30th anniversary in June 2010 with a concert titled “Past, Present & Future”. It included a selection of pieces or composers from the Consort’s classic repertoire (Past), explored the voicing and “space” of several double-choir pieces (Present), and featured the premiere of two new pieces, including a commissioned work by Anthony Ritchie (Future).

(more to come soon)