Every boy who is accepted into the Cathedral Choir receives a valuable scholarship to The Cathedral Grammar School. This School, one of only two choir schools outside the UK, was founded in 1881 to educate the Cathedral choristers. Now, with a roll of almost 400, it continues to do this and the choristers form a vital part of the School family. Further information about the school can be found on its web site. The Cathedral Director of Music is always happy to audition prospective choristers; there is no specific date on which auditions are held. Please get in touch with the Director of Music, Brian Law.
Alfred George Vercoe Scholarship Created - 2011
A new choral scholarship has been donated in memory of Alfred Vercoe and was awarded for the first time at the Cathedral Grammar School Founders’ Day Service last month. The inaugural recipient was Nathanael Wain.
ALFRED GEORGE VERCOE (1912 – 1964) was born to a mining family in Thames, became a self taught musician skilled on many instruments during the Depression, was especially active in the Paeroa Brass Band and led several dance bands in the area. In 1940 he went to Europe with the 2nd NZEF as a member of the 5th Brigade Band, and served in Crete under General Freyberg. After the war he married a Welsh school teacher Margaret Mary Morgan, who had emigrated as a war bride on the ship Otronto. They settled in Te Awamutu where George built a business as a cabinet maker. Cabinetry gradually took a back seat to his fun-loving side when he turned this skill to boat building and planning outings with family and friends on the several hydro lakes along the Waikato River. Skilled at jazz piano and saxophone, George was also a popular band leader and piano teacher, was a familiar performer at Hamilton’s Starlight Ballroom, and at beach resorts like
Whangamata. George Vercoe explored music fervently, writing arrangements for large swing bands and directing shows like Oklahoma, while being Alfred George Vercoe scholarship created a central figure in the Te Awamutu Brass Band. He was also skilled in cinematography, was President of the local Cine Club, and an early innovator in the art of “claymations” – all the while being a devoted family man. Yet it was as a jazz performer that he seemed most tireless, always rushing off to yet another show, and giving it his all. It was in the course of one of these, in Te Awamutu atthe relatively young age of 52, that he died on stage blowing his horn. George Vercoe’s musicianship lives on in his 3 children (Barry, David, and Glynis) and 3 grandchildren (Andrea, Scott, and Michael), most of whom are professional musicians today. Scholarship donor Barry Vercoe is Professor of Music and Media Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-founder of MIT’s famed Media Lab, and co-founder of One Laptop per Child Australia which gives free educational laptops to indigenous and very remote primary children in outback Australia. In the 1960s, as a student at University of Auckland, he was a member of St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral Choir under Peter Godfrey, where he learned the deep musical value of English Choir School traditions. His gift of this new scholarship to Christchurch Cathedral Grammar is to reaffirm the role that choral music will surely play in rebuilding the life and spirit of this city.