Poetry will be converted to song when Christine Archer-Lockwood directs the Renaissance Singers in the Keats 'n' Beats concert at St Peter's Church on Ruahine St.

The choir started practising the brand-new repertoire for Keats 'n' Beats before lockdown, continued on-line during lockdown, and then began singing together again to bring Palmerstonians this innovative collection of poetry put to music and song.

The songs are the work of some of the world's best wordsmiths and gifted composers.

The Renaissance Singers are delighted to be collaborating with Wellington's Ingrid Prosser who specialises as a performance poet.


The audience will hear her give her own nuanced rendition of the poetry, ensuring the audience will hear the words prior to the sung versions.

The choir also welcomes back Guy Donaldson as the piano accompanist, challenging the choir with counterpoint rhythms.

A new piece by Palmerston North's Graham Parsons begins the programme.

The Light of Day was commissioned and written in memory of well known and respected Renaissance Singers chorister Lucy Broadbent.

The choir then reveals Keats' rather cheeky side with various not so subtle references in his Devon Maid. He liked her hills and dales.

Nineteenth century American poet Emily Dickinson displayed her classical learnings in her Valentine poem written to a friend. He had given her books full of classical references.

Her Valentine is stylishly put to music by William Hawley.

The concert then has the choir travel in time over the globe from the old world of Shakespeare, via a rather forbidding lake captured by Edgar Allen Poe, instigator of the horror genre, to our current world of Bob Dylan and Cilla McQueen and the New Zealand of Sam Hunt who wrote of tunnels into which we might just disappear.


Sir George Shearing jazzes up Shakespeare, giving licence to Guy Donaldson to extemporise on the piano.

New Zealand talents Anthony Ritchie and David Childs treat us to their contrasting interpretations of Keats and Sam Hunt.

Then Barnum tests the choir with his bouncy interpretation of James Hunt's Jenny Kiss'd Me, recalling the time poet Hunt rose from his sick bed to visit friends, prompting the surprised Jenny to leap up from her chair and kiss him.

For the Renaissance Singers this will be an opportunity to say welcome back to lovers of beautiful harmonies and choral compositions that test the singers and reward the listeners.

Last year the Guardian ran accounts of the theft of the trailer and staging equipment belonging to the Renaissance Singers. Neither trailer nor contents were ever found.

The good news is the Renaissance Singers have managed to replace their stolen staging equipment and trailer.


The equipment was covered by insurance and a substantial grant from the Eastern and Central Trust bought a new trailer.

The choir is very grateful to the trust, but had to dip into reserve funding to make up a shortfall.

The choir is delighted to be able to once again stage its concerts on appropriate gear which will be made available to other choirs and musicians as a community resource.

The staging equipment will make its first appearance at 2.30pm at the Keats 'n' Beats concert, September 20, St Peter's Church, Ruahine St.