The choir, originally known as the Cantabile Singers, was founded by music teacher Beatrice Webster in late 1961 as a singing group of nine women.
Mrs Webster moved her teaching practice to Auckland in 1978. Her successor as musical director was soprano Merle Fausett, who spent 12 years with the choir and later worked with the Bay of Plenty Symphonia. In 1987 the choir’s name was changed to the Tauranga Civic Choir to more accurately reflect what the group had become.
Jeremy Whimster took over the role of Musical Director in 1992. He challenged the choir on many occasions with some original programmes, introducing the choir to composers such as Britten, Finzi and Durufle. Working hard to achieve the highest possible standard, the choir won the silver award in the 2003 National final of the NZ Choral Federation’s Classic Sing.
The Tauranga Civic Choir celebrated its Golden Jubilee in November 2012 with festivities attended by existing and former choir members and a performance of Handel’s Messiah with international soloists and a full orchestra.
Under Jeremy Whimster's direction the choir continued to join with other choirs in Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, and around the Bay of Plenty. The Choir has made a point of encouraging young singers, organists and instrumentalists, inviting them to be soloists with the choir or joining in orchestras and small instrumental ensembles that accompany the range of performed works. The choir was thrilled when Jeremy was awarded a very well earned Queen’s Service Medal for services to music, in the 2015 New Year’s Honours List.
In recent years the choir has taken on its role as the Civic Choir leading the singing at the Civic Anzac Day Service and at monthly Citizenship Ceremonies.
In December 2016, Jeremy retired from the position of Musical Director. A new Musical Director, Nigel Williams, was appointed on 1 January 2017, and continued with the choir until June 2020. Jeremy graciously stepped back into the role until the end of the year, and in January 2021 Jan Clarke joined us as Musical Director until March 2022. With Jan's departure, we were fortunate that Nigel Williams was back in Tauranga and was willing to take up the baton once again.
Our choir members continue to enjoy preparing and performing a range of choral works for our audiences, and we thank the people of Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty for their support and enthusiasm for choral singing.
Bonnie Hebenton (Chair)
Naomi Jones (Secretary)
Robyn Luijken (Treasurer)
Margaret Bullen (Librarian)