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Auckland University Singers records.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-A-293

Scope and Contents

Collection comprises the Auckland University Singers constitution, a complete set of minutes of the committee from 1970 to 1985, overseas tour reports, schedules, publicity material, programmes and reviews of concerts, scrapbooks containing photographs and ephemera, audio recordings of the choir and a movie film containing footage of the 1972 Lincoln Centre Choral Festival.


  • 1970 - 2002


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted

Biographical / Historical

The Auckland University Festival Choir of New Zealand was founded as an incorporated society in 1970. By this time, the University Choral Society had developed into a large and popular university organisation. However, the opportunity for a New Zealand university choir of no more than 40 voices to attend the Lincoln Centre Universities Choral Festival in 1972 prompted the creation of a smaller, specialist choir to represent the country at this international competition. After a successful audition and intense preparation, the choir attended the festival and completed a world tour, visiting London, Maastricht and Düsseldorf among other locations and receiving excellent reviews. After the choir returned to New Zealand, it was decided that it should continue, albeit with a name change to the Auckland University Singers.

The most significant figure in the choir’s development was Peter Godfrey, who had been teaching at the university since 1958 and was appointed Professor and Head of the Music Department in 1974. He was heavily involved in organising and conducting the choir from its inception to 1982, leading it on regular domestic and overseas tours and exploring a diverse and challenging repertoire, including many works by New Zealand composers. Ghosts, Fire, Water, an anti-war piece composed by Douglas Mews in memory of the bombing of Hiroshima, garnered attention in a 1972 America wracked by division over the Vietnam conflict, and became a piece particularly associated with the choir.

The departure of Professor Godfrey as conductor, and the arrival of a new generation of members and supporters, provided impetus for change. In 1985, the Singers ceased to be an incorporated society, instead coming under the aegis of the School of Music; the University Singers Choral Award was established with the funds that had been accumulated over the previous fifteen years, to encourage and benefit choral singing at the university. Later in the 1980s, reforms in the funding of higher education made extensive touring impractical, and the AUS shifted its focus to local concerts and events. Conducted since 1985 by faculty member Karen Grylls, the choir continues today as part of the life of the university and the School of Music.


1 metres (9 boxes + sound recordings and 1 cine film reel.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These records were donated by the Singers in 1986. A reunion booklet was donated by Ms Charlton in 1990, and further materials (previously at Vault 115) were donated after further events in 1995 and 2002.

Related Materials

Photographs of the choir, along with other university performing arts events and groups, are held at MSS & Archives 97/5.

Inventory of the records of the Auckland University Singers, 1970-2002.
Wakefield Harper
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand