THE Stratford Mountain Singers bid musical director, Gabrielle Barr, a fond farewell on Monday, December 1, honouring her with a special 'thank-you' supper.
With both past and present choir members in attendance, choir president Peter Burgham led the evening's proceedings, running two special quizzes and a special sing-a-long of some of the choir's favourite songs.
With drinks and supper provided by the committee, the evening provided both a chance for the choir to officially say goodbye to Gabrielle and the opportunity for a pre-Christmas social catch-up.
Gabrielle took up the reins of the Stratford Mountain Singers in 1996 and over 12 years of long and dedicated service, led the choir to new heights of singing excellence.
As a fully-trained and well-experienced singing teacher, she imparted a great deal of wisdom to the group and expanded their repertoire in a number of ways, taking them through a period of unprecedented growth in both number of songs and number of members.
With a long list of private singing students and ongoing links to New Plymouth's Ars Nova and City Sounds Choirs, Gabrielle raised the profile of the choir, involving them in wider regional music events, including a concert with Dame Malvina Major and a performance of David Hamilton's contemporary work, 'Missa Semplice'.
Still heavily involved in musical initiatives around the region, in recent years Gabrielle has found herself in even greater demand and earlier this year, decided to retire from directorship of Stratford's choir to focus on some of her other projects.
"Gabrielle always had high standards for the choir," said new musical director, Leon Gray-Lockhart, "which means that now I find them easy to teach, well-disciplined and open to new ideas. I'm very grateful for the training she has given them over the years."