For 50 years music enthusiast Basil Brooker has been fronting the Linden Singers of Hawke's Bay choir, but due to illness the conductor's last concert will be in March.
Brooker has terminal cancer and his last performance will be on March 14, where the Linden Singers will take the stage with the Waiapu Cathedral choir at Waiapu Catherdral in Napier, bringing together two strands of his music career.
The 79-year-old founded the Linden choir in 1971, after heeding his late wife's advice.
The couple moved to Hawke's Bay from Wellington in 1969 where he'd been singing in several choirs of high standard, but couldn't seem to find anything similar in his new hometown.
"After two years my wife said 'stop moaning, start your own choir' - and that's what happened," he said.
For the next 50 years Brooker produced, organised, rehearsed, conducted and presented different programmes of choral music performed by the Linden Singers with his loyal 30-voice choir.
"I never had any formal qualifications to take on a choir, in fact I'm a chartered accountant - but music is my passion," he said.
Brooker said the choir started with a modest six members and has grown over the years.
"I've grown over the years as well, I've learnt a lot about conducting and the choir's flourished over the 50 years," he said.
In 1996 Brooker was given a Civic Award by the Hastings District Council and in 2017 New Years' Honours he received a Queen's Service Medal.
He said the choir has been responsible for both these achievements.
The Linden choir were going to hold celebrations in October this year to celebrate their 50th year, but because of their founder's worsening condition the date was brought forward to March.
Brooker said he will be conducting the majority of the performance - if he is well enough.
Linden Singers chairman Ross Corbett said Brooker's contribution to the choir and to the musical life of Hawke's Bay has been outstanding.
"He has given, for no financial reward, so much of his time and expertise to foster choral music through the Linden Singers for the people of Hawke's Bay," he said.
During his time with the choir Brooker has produced more than 100 different programmes and conducted well over 200 concerts.
Corbett said Brooker has provided a musical outlet for more than 200 local choristers who have sung in the choir over the years and encouraged dozens of soloists, school groups and instrumentalists to perform with the choir.
"Many members of the current Linden Singers have enjoyed their musical experiences so much that they have remained part of the choir for well over 20 years," Corbett said.
Because Brooker sung himself for many years with Waiapu Cathedral Choir, the concert will combine the talents of both choirs and will feature many of his favourite choral pieces.
The concert and reunion will commence at 2.30pm on Sunday March 14 at Waiapu Catherdral in Napier, coinciding with Brooker's 80th birthday celebrations.