About Us ..

The Cantando Choir was formed in 1987 and is one of the major choirs in the Waikato Region with a regular membership of over 100 voices. Cantando aims to achieve musical excellence in all aspects of choral performance, offering its members the joy and pleasure of singing in a large choral group.

The Choir, led by its Musical Director Rupert D’Cruze, recognises the importance of building on the skills and talents of its members, and provides a supportive environment offering the opportunity for development and growth.

Cantando performs at least three major concerts per season, which include a wide range of repertoire including major works such as Verdi’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah, as well as its regular ANZAC Reflections presentation and performances of lighter music.

The Choir has an on-going partnership with the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, and the two groups have given many successful concerts together.

We are always interested to know of new singers, particularly tenors and basses, who may be interested in joining us. If you already have some choral singing experience and are keen to develop your skills then please do get in touch with us.

In 2020 we say hallo to our new MUSICAL DIRECTOR – Kolitha Jayatunge

Cantando Choir Musical Director, Tenor 

Based in the Waikato, tenor Kolitha Jayatunge started singing in 2006 as a chorister at Wellington’s St Paul’s Cathedral and the Orpheus Choir of Wellington. In the following year, he became a member of the New Zealand Opera Chorus until 2012. In 2013, Mr Jayatunge moved to Hamilton and currently sings with the Hamilton Civic Choir, St Peter’s Cathedral Choir, and Baroque Chamber Group Vox Baroque. In 2015, he began his role as conductor for the Cathedral Singers of St Peter’s Cathedral in Hamilton, and this year he will debut as Musical Director for Cantando Choir.

In 2016, Mr Jayatunge completed his Post-Graduate Diploma in Music with Distinction at the University of Waikato under the tutelage of Dame Malvina Major. During his study, Mr Jayatunge debuted his character tenor role of Don Basilio in the University’s production of the opera Le Nozze di Figaro by W.A. Mozart.

Mr Jayatunge is also a regular chorister and soloist at the St Peter’s Cathedral Cantata Vespers and for the Baroque Chamber Group Vox Baroque under director Dr Rachael Griffiths-Hughes. This year, his Auckland debut as soloist with early music ensemble Affetto and distinguished baroque specialists will feature Handel’s Gloria in Excelsis Deo. His repertoire includes Handel’s Chandos Anthems and a collection of cantatas by Bach, Benda, Graupner, Monteverdi, Schutz, Stoelzul, and Telemann.

Mr Jayatunge is also widely known in local operatic societies, and has enjoyed principal roles with the Te Awamutu Light Operatic Society in their productions of The Mikado and the King and I.

Recent solo engagements include Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Bach’s Lutheran Mass in G minor, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, Vaughan William’s Christmas Fantasia, and Bach’s Mass in B Minor. 

ACCOMPANIST - David Woodcock

Originally from Wales, David studied music at University in Bangor, then trombone at the Welsh College of Music and the Royal College of Music.

In 1983 David moved to New Zealand, to play trombone, and occasionally piano and celeste, with the Auckland Philharmonia. He also played with the NZSO, and many touring orchestras for visiting artists such as Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth. He is also a composer and arranger, having worked with all the New Zealand orchestras, and many overseas, including the London Philharmonic.

Since moving to Hamilton a few years ago David now has more opportunity to use his piano skills once again, being called on to accompany many local singers and instrumentalists. He regularly plays piano and other keyboards for the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, and is the pianist for Opera Brava.

David has also over the last few years had the pleasure of making even more noise than his time as a trombone player when he assisted with the fireworks display and firing the cannon in the 1812 Overture at the Hamilton Gardens Festival.

Recent news: We also want to congratulate our Accompanist David Woodcock.  David was awarded first place in the 2016 SOUNZ Brass composition prize. The winning entry, Elegy was given its first performance by Belgian cornet soloist Harmen Vanhoorne, accompanied by the composer, at the national brass band competitions held in Napier in July.

David was also awarded first place in the 2016 Experianza Music Composition Prize, for a piece written for brass band. "David's excellent piece Conflict was referred to as being elegantly crafted, dynamic and full of interest for the listener".  He tells us that the piece will be published by Experianza Music.