Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The first time I heard Lesley Parker's Halswell Community Choir and invited musicians was at one of their earlier concerts in the Halswell hall a few years ago. They made a big impression with the choir doing a fabulous job of singing upbeat songs, sometimes in five part harmonies which the audience sang along to. Afterwards, the musicians jumped on stage to belt out dance numbers and the hall erupted with the whole audience jumping to their feet and dancing for the rest of the evening. We had enjoyed the night so much that naturally when Halswell Community Project were trying to think of another community event to hold, we thought of Lesley and her friends and thought a Halswell winter dance would be fun. And yes, it was, it turned out to be another great night where the crowd danced all night long to perfectly pitched cover songs.
The Halswell Community Choir are often seen at local events and the thing that strikes you about the choir, apart from their lovely tunes, is the joy that is on their faces. They are loving every minute of what they are doing, and with the self-deprecating humour of their Irish director, as well as a mix of other musicians, it makes them a very entertaining bunch.
All this musical talent came to Halswell, not long after Lesley and her husband Matt arrived here from the UK. It was then that Lesley started the choir. Lesley had grown up in Northern Ireland and Matt, London. Music is a big part of their lives, however, they also have day jobs. Lesley works as a science teacher at Westmount school. Matt used to work for the city council but is now a pastor of Kings Church in the city. Kings Church is part of a worldwide family of churches called New Frontiers which is involved with church planting. There are New Frontier Churches here in Christchurch and also in Wellington, Auckland, New Plymouth and Nelson. Many of Lesley's fellow musicians attend this church too.
Matt and Lesley both came from homes where there was a love of singing. Matt's dad even joins the choir when he comes over from London to visit. Lesley's family attended the Quaker church, which ironically, worships in silence. Her parents could both hold a tune well and everywhere she went, Lesley joined a choir or worship band. Matt obtained a degree in Music at the Royal Academy of Music in London and plays the bassoon, amongst many other instruments.
The community choir was started by Lesley because "what she loves to do most is to sing with other people." She also loves to see the support the group gives to each other and also "the joy in the room at the end of evening spent singing."
Their current songlist includes a wide variety of songs such as: Sammy Davis Jnr's”Rhythm of Life”, Josh Groban's “You Lift Me Up”,”Three Dog Night's”, “Joy to the World”, Dave Dobbyn's “Welcome Home”, Bic Runga's “Hello, Hello”, and Ross Meecham's “The World Still Turns”.
The choir sings at the Anthony Wilding retirement village, the Aidanfield Christian School Fair, the St John of God Christmas Carols and have their own concerts at Te Hapua. The next place they are singing is the Aidanfield Christian School Fair on Saturday 19th of November.
The other musicians that often accompany the choir are local musician Ross Meecham playing his own songs. You may also hear the talents of Sam Watson, Catherine Bryant, Alex Bryan, Chris Horn, Matt Parker and the fabulous Kings Blues Band.
Prospective choristers do not have to audition; the only job requirement is that ".they enjoy singing. Everyone is welcome”. If you are interested in coming along to choir, message Lesley on the choir's Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org or turn up to practice on Monday evenings in the Aidanfield Christian School 7.15-9.15pm
While most children at age six are learning to read, Jasper Harrison was writing a book. His book "The Adventures of Jasper and Sharkcrock in Magictopia" has now been published, and arrived as a lovely Christmas surprise. Jasper opened his Christmas parcel and discovered his own book!
Japser's story is set in the magical world of Magictopia where the sky is red, the grass blue and houses are made of dragonfruit. Magictopia is in civil war and Jasper Kungbear's parents, the King and Queen, have gone missing. Jasper and his friends embark on an exciting journey to find the map that will lead them to his parents. They encounter challenges such as vicious giant bombardier beetles, Ninja robots and the evil villain, Dr Poisoning Pirate. The story is full of twists and turns because in Magictopia, the kingdom where one thousand witches and wizards reside, anything can happen. It is a delightful, humorous, original, action packed story that any primary school student would love to read.
Jasper loved putting all his creative ideas into one story. Justin, Jasper's dad, said he “loved seeing the unbridled imagination of a six year old. 'Magictopia' is Jasper's world and it was a lot of fun to play around in a sandbox world and edit the story together." They are currently writing Jasper's second book and plan to write more.
A love of reading and a well-developed imagination have been nurtured in Jasper by his parents, Justin and Lisa, who began reading to him even before he was born. He had had so many stories read to him that at age four and a half, he would happily read books by himself. Furthermore, Jasper of his own accord, decided to read movie subtitles. "He did this for two and a half years and increased his reading speed considerably," notes Lisa. "He reads up to ten hours a week, especially when he has discovered a new series that he loves."
Further confirming his writing talents, Jasper achieved a High Distinction in the writing ICAS exam, which is only achieved by the top 1% of students entered from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
Other influences are his writing Granny and a writing Dad. His Granny, Tui Harrison, wrote for a regional newspaper and still enjoys writing the occasional poem and short story. Her son, Justin, is a member of the Christchurch Writers Guild and reviews New Zealand books for "Takahe", a nationwide literary magazine. Justin also loves to write fiction. He, in fact, wrote his own first 20,000 word story when he was still at school and has written his own 120,000 word novel: "The Eye of Torrbey" which he hopes to get published soon. Recently, too, he wrote its prequel: The Mage Wars. Jasper credits "The Eye of Torrbey" as being an inspiration for his own writing.
"The adventures of Jasper and Sharkcrock in Magictopia" by Jasper and Justin Harrison can be purchased on Amazon, Fishpond or by emailing : HarrisonFamilyPress@gmail.com Look out also for Jasper and Justin's next book in the Magictopia series that is coming out in November 2016.