After 43 years together, the Pakuranga Madrigal Choir is coming to an end.
They are disbanding and will embark on their own journey’s following the announcement of choir lead Neil Guyan’s retirement.
After a series of health complications, Neil has had to give up the role he adores, marking the end of an era for the choir.
Over the years, the choir has shown resilience in the face of adversity, with Neil guiding them through threats to the funding and housing of the choir over the years.
The journey started in 1969 when Neil, who at the time was Pakuranga College’s head of music, established the school’s madrigal choir for those who enjoyed choral pursuits.
The choir was prolific and went on to win many awards.
However, after leaving school, some of the students who belonged to the choir craved the opportunity to sing again.
So in 1972 Neil decided to establish the madrigal choir for adults which was originally called the Pakuranga College Evening Class Madrigal Choir.
Vicky Stone, who has been a choir member since its inception, says Neil was the soul of music in Howick.
“He has had a huge impact on musicians and singers in this area over the years and has taught so many students who have gone on to reach incredible heights in their music,” she says.
She has fond memories of Neil’s enthusiasm inspiring a sense of passion and drive in everyone he taught.
Vicky says the choir has been in recess for almost a year awaiting Neil’s decision on whether he could continue to lead the choir following his health complications.
“His retirement has left a huge gap in the music scene here in Howick and I just don’t think anyone would have been able to take his place leading the choir.”
But while ill-health may have slowed him down, the 72-year-old will never lose his love of music.
Despite his limited eyesight stopping him from reading music, he is still seen playing piano and organ from memory at All Saints Church.
“We all have such fond memories of Neil and the choir, we will miss him.”