The Edgecumbe Choir - Whakatane based



The Edgecumbe Choir’s objective is to promote the practice and performance of choral and orchestral music.  

The choir was formed at Edgecumbe in 1957, but since 2000 has been based in Whakatane, practising on Thursday

nights between 7 and 9pm at the Church of St George and St John in Domain Road.  Though much of the music the

choir sings is religious in origin and the performances are often held in churches, the choir has no religious affiliation.

Members are drawn from around the Eastern Bay of Plenty.  Our vision is to be “A vibrant and inclusive group of singers who enjoy learning a range of choral music to an excellent standard, and performing to a wide and appreciative audience”.  

We welcome new members and supporters. Contact: 

Performances 2023 - (Three Performances)


Concert 1:  Saturday 10 June 7:30pm  and Sunday 11 June 2pm

F. J. Haydn - Seven Last Words of Christ

W. A. Mozart - Mass in C Major, K 220 (The Sparrow’s Mass)


Concert 2:  Saturday 16 September 7:30pm and Sunday 17 September 2pm 

J. S. Bach - Magnificat in D, BWV 243 

F. J. Haydn - Mass in G Major (The St. Nicholas Mass 


Concert 3: Saturday 9 December 7:30pm and Sunday 10 December 2pm  

G.F. Handel "Messiah"



NEXT CONCERT - See more information on 'Next Concert' tab above

F.J.Haydn Towards the end of the 17th Century, Jesuits in Lima (Peru) developed a specific Passion devotion on the “Seven Last

Words” which soon reached the Catholic countries of Europe. Haydn’s setting belongs to this tradition, which is characterized by strong popular piety. Originally, it was purely an orchestral work based on a commission from Cadiz in Spain; the work was to consist of an appropriate prelude and seven instrumental movements of approximately the same length which were to reflect the respective words of Christ as meditation music. Upon first hearing the work publicly performed, Haydn was both inspired and encouraged to revisit his original score and add a choir and soloists.  The result of this burst of inspiration is a wonderfully expressive and thoroughly dramatic choral work. The work radiates with classical beauty and sentiment throughout and culminates with one of Haydn’s most dramatic and exciting choral moments ever written - the earthquake.  

W.A. Mozart - Written by a 20 year old Mozart, the Spätzenmesse or “Sparrow’s Mass” was written for Easter 1776.  Leopold Mozart went to great lengths to secure his son the lucrative and highly-coveted position of court musician to Prince Archbishop Colloredo, the ruler of Salzburg. Mozart gained many friends and admirers in Salzburg during this time and had the opportunity to work in many genres, including symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, masses, serenades, and even a few minor operas. This decidedly celebratory and optimistic little mass would have surely been commissioned by Archbishop Colloredo himself for the Easter Mass in Salzburg Cathedral. The work earned the nickname “sparrow” on account of the violin figure in the Hosanna which amusingly sounds like the chirping of birds.  Despite his successes, Mozart quickly grew bored and discontented with Salzburg, which offered him few opportunities to indulge in his primary love, opera.  By the very next Easter (1777), Mozart will have abandoned his position in Salzburg and be en route for the pleasures of Paris. 

 Following Mozart’s sad and untimely death, his rather incapable student Franz Süssmayr would use this Mass (and 4 others Mozart had written) as his model and template to complete the unfinished Requiem. This was at the request of Mozart’s widow, Constanze, in order that the impoverished family might collect the ever-important commission.



Concert 2:  Saturday 16 September 7:30pm and Sunday 17 September 2pm 

J. S. Bach - Magnificat in D, BWV 243 

F. J. Haydn - Mass in G Major (The St. Nicholas Mass)

Bach’s exquisite Magnificat is one of many musical settings of the “Song of Mary”.  It is the spontaneous exhortation into which Mary bursts not long after The Annunciation; the visitation of the Angel Gabriel, who reveals that Mary will mother the son of God.  Today, The Annunciation is commonly observed on the Fourth Sunday of Advent in the lead up to Christmas.  Mary’s song is loaded with troubling language which smacks of revolution.  It is a damning indictment of the world which she inhabits.  In this new world order of hers, Mary would have the proud scattered, the mighty brought down, and the hungry fed.  It is a declaration that, with the birth of her agitator son, all inequality shall end and all injustices shall be put right.

The Magnificat was composed in 1723 - a year of tremendous importance to the fortunes of the Bach and his family. He had secured the highly-coveted position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig that same year. Bach, a fresh new hire, would have been undoubtedly eager to employ any and all means necessary to prove his skill and ability as a composer to assure his new employers they had hired the right man for the job. The Magnificat was in effect, his meal ticket. It must have worked as he held the position until his death in 1750. 


In 1766, Haydn was elevated to the position of Kapellmeister in the service to the Esterházy princes.  As a house officer in the Esterházy establishment, Haydn wore livery and followed the family as they moved among their various palaces, most importantly the family's ancestral seat Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt.  Haydn had a huge range of responsibilities, including composition, running the orchestra, playing chamber music for and with his patrons, and eventually the mounting of operatic productions.  Despite this backbreaking workload, the job was in artistic terms a superb opportunity for Haydn.  The Esterházy princes (Paul Anton, then from 1762 to 1790 Nikolaus I) were musical connoisseurs who appreciated his work and gave him daily access to his own small orchestra. During the nearly thirty years that Haydn worked at the Esterházy court, he produced a flood of compositions, and his musical style continued to develop.

Composed in 1772, the St. Nicholas Mass captures Haydn at the height of his creative skill, especially as he begins to undertake a greater interest in choral composition.  It is a happy and optimistic work which follows very much the mould of the standard “classical mass”, yet it still stands out as one of the finest specimens of such. Haydn’s charming St. Nicholas Mass was also composed with perhaps a double purpose in mind. While it could be argued that it was written for the Feast Day of St. Nicholas - December 6 - it is more likely the work was written to celebrate (and perhaps curry favour with) Haydn’s esteemed benefactor, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.  One particular theory surrounding the composition of this work is that Haydn composed the work as a personal thanks for allowing him to return to work at Eisenstadt. 


Concert 3: Sunday 10 December 2pm - G.F. Handel "Messiah"

 G. F. Handel - Messiah 

Listening to the music and message of Handel’s Messiah can bring us a sense of inner peace for the troubled present and bring hope for an uncertain future. 

Handel composed this, his most famous oratorio within 24 days. It has often been recounted that during the course of its composition, Handel was occasionally moved to tears and sensed the presence of the Great God of Heaven.

Handel was invited by William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to visit Dublin and present some of his music. In response to that invitation, Messiah was given its premiere performance on 13 April, 1742. This first performance featured a choir of only 10 men and 10 boys loaned to Handel by special permission by the choirs of Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals. The proceeds of this performance were devoted to the relief of prisoners, the support of a hospital, and the assistance of a charitable infirmary. 

This oratorio is so much more than a masterful combination of overture, pastorale, fugue and minuet.  If you are gifted with the sensitivity of faith, Handel’s masterwork will be more than just an annual cultural experience and festive tradition. 


 Venue: St George and St John Church 30 Domain Rd Whakatane