Wednesday November 29, 2017
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Singing for a peace of mind
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By Julia Czerwonatis
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Voices soft as summer rain singing tunes for people who are approaching the end of their lives – the Whakaahuru Singers are a unique Wellington choir who specifically perform for people who receive palliative care and are close to dying. “It’s a very special kind of singing; we’re blending our voices and creating a kind of sound bath,” Fred Albert explains “It’s a very gentle sound that still contains a certain amount of energy.” Fred lives in Roseneath and is one of over 20 Whakaahuru Singers from across the Wellington region. “People relax when listening to us, their breathing becomes slower, and many find a way to go somewhere else in their minds,” he says. In 2013, founder and current music director Carol Shortis met a woman from the United States who sang in a choir of dedicated singers who performed at a local hospice for patients who were dying. Carol was intrigued with this idea, and began to explore the possibility of setting up a similar group in Wellington. Today, the Whakaahuru Singers regularly perform at the Mary Potter Hospice chapel, the Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt, in Sprott House rest home in Karori and the Millvale House Miramar. Split into smaller groups the singers also visit individuals in their homes or rooms in care facilities. “We sing a diverse selection of
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dying people. “We often see tears, not necessarily from patients but from family members who are with us in the room so we talked a lot about emotional effects this might have on us,” she says. For Bridgett, singing for patients is “as much a gift to us as it is to them”. The Whakaahuru Singer rehearse every Tuesday morning at Hobson Crescent in Thorndon from 10am-12 noon; new members are welcome. Visit whakaahuru. org.nz for more information. EXCLUSIVE Black+Decker
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songs including Gaelic songs, lullabies, Waiata and various other languages,” Sue Beaton, choir member from Berhampore, says. “We don’t want the people who listen to our music to engage with words but be embraced by sound and melody.” Bridgett Parkin from Northland is a Whakaahuru Singer as well, and she explains that they have been working hard over the past three years since their establishment to refine their skills and song repertoire, and also to sit together and discuss what it means to sing for
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Whakaahuru Singers Sue Beaton, Bridgett Parkin and Fred Albert. PHOTO: Julia Czerwonatis
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Independent Herald 29-11-17