Teiron Jones, originally from Wales, arrived in Whanganui from Zambia in 1991 to take a position at Whanganui High School. That year he started a choir in Whanganui.
Teiron's philosophy was, "We sing because it is one of the most enjoyable, uplifting, therapeutic and challenging activities in which one can possibility take part."
He was passionate about drawing young people into singing and music. His vision was an all-comers' choir: no auditions, just singing with others for the sheer joy of it. The Wanganui Youth and Community Choir was born.
Sadly, Teiron died in a boating accident in 2017.
This year, Wanganui Community Choir celebrates 30 years of musical enjoyment.
Since 1991 the choir has sung with 12 accompanists and under the baton of eight musical directors, the most recent being Lynn Whiteside who conducted the choir for 11 years.
At the end of last year she handed over the music stand to 22-year-old Caleb Arthur, who, in turn, passed on the job of accompanying the singers to his sister Shontae Arthur.
Anne Strong has been the choir's librarian for 28 years – she's in charge of all the sheet music - but has been in the choir since the beginning. She remembers there were 89 people of all ages at the first rehearsal.
"Teiron taught us to sing for the pure joy of it," she says. "At one stage I was organising 100 pieces of music."
The choir has always been big, with active participant numbers always more than 50.
"The choir has always been fun," says Anne. "We used to trip away a bit."
After Teiron moved away from Whanganui in 1994 to teach elsewhere, Ruth Evans took his place until the end of 1997.
"The standout memory with Ruth Evans was when the choir was the chorus for Cavaleria Rusticana. The first of many operas by Opera Wanganui, headed by Leonie Symes. Some of us continued and sang in most of them," says Anne.
Other conductors were Judy Barrett (three and a half years), Jim Eyers (six months), Sue Lupton (seven years) and Marie Brooks (one year).
Caleb Arthur is a keen chorister and now leads the singers from the front.
"I've always wanted to direct a choir … I've been in choirs for years. I was Lynn's accompanist for a year beforehand.
"It is hard work but also lots of fun. Everyone's so fast at learning it makes my job easier."
Choir president Shona Rush has been in the choir for about nine years.
"I love to sing," she says. That's the reason she joined. She took singing lessons from Lynn Whiteside, who told her the best way to learn was to "join our choir."
Shona joined and became alto section leader for a time, before becoming president.
Anne Strong took over the music librarian's job from Peter Parsons, less than two years into the choir's history, and now stores all the sheet music, dating back to the first song the choir sang. Her husband Trevor built a special shed for its storage and easy access.
Anne says there are still some original members.
"There are some who have been there from the beginning, and there are some who've had a break for five or 10 years, maybe, and come back."
The youth element is holding up well, particularly with 22-year-old Caleb as director. He has brought in a few members from his family and his church. He is from a musical family, with most of the nine children proficient on at least one musical instrument. Caleb plays piano and cello, and sings. Shontae, the choir's accompanist, is a violin and piano teacher.
Anne is from a musical family and she and her father joined the choir at the same time. Shona has fond memories of family sing-alongs with her father on the piano accordion. He was a member of a piano accordion band.
Anne says there is always a shortage of male choristers, which is something they would all like to change.
Anne's memories include some never-to-be-repeated highlights.
"Ruth [Evans] got us on National Radio and we recorded at St Paul's. They came and filmed us.
"A lot of the choir used to go up to Sing Aotearoa at Ohakune and people would come from overseas and take a weekend of workshops. We got to do a concert in the snow with people skiing around us.
"With Teiron we went away a lot on trips and he got us singing in Symphony Under the Stars. Quite a big group of us went up there every year. He also got us in the choir to sing the national anthem when the French came to play one year.
"Teiron taught us Verdi's Requiem. He collected a whole lot of choirs and people from all over and we learned it together. We sang it in Wellington in the cathedral, and also sang it in Napier and New Plymouth. From that, a group of us were asked to sing with Pavarotti in Australia.
To do so they had to join the New Zealand Festival Choir and the World Festival Choir. They sang in three Australian cities and got to meet the world's greatest tenor.
"That's the highlight of my time with the choir," says Anne. "It was one of the most powerful and exhilarating pieces I've ever sung. About three years ago we did it in New Plymouth again. We can sing it by heart. It's hard to learn but you never forget it."
She says a group of Whanganui choir members got to sing in Russia about 14 years ago.
"We sang in St Petersburg and Moscow. Eight hours we spent rehearsing with a huge orchestra and we sang in amazing palaces. The audiences wouldn't sit down — they just clapped and clapped. We were completely exhausted."
She says joining the choir opened so many doors.
A highlight under Lynn Whiteside's directorship was a performance of the Mikado at Heritage House.
Shona says singing at the recent Masters Games was memorable.
"We've also done things out in the community, with Sharyn Underwood School of Dance at the Caboodle in Majestic Square.
"It's always fun to bring others in, like the dancers, so we can support each other."
The Community Choir raises funds for charity with its concerts and community performances.
What: Wanganui Community Choir 30th Anniversary Concert
When: Saturday, June 19, 2pm, followed by afternoon tea.
Where: Central Baptist Church, cnr Dublin and Wicksteed streets.
Tickets: Tickets from choir members, at the door or phone Edwyna 344 7974 / 027 360 1335. Adults $20; seniors $15; students $10; children under 12 free.