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 Kolitha Jayatunge, 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.
Musical Director - Kolitha Jayatunge
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 - Jonathan Dunlop
After completing a Master's Degree in Piano Performance with First Class Honours, Jonathan Dunlop is now a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Waikato, studying Expressive Pedalling Techniques in Late Classical and Early Romantic Piano Performance with Katherine Austin. To compliment his studies in this field, he plays a wide variety of historic keyboards (harpsichord, clavichord, organ and fortepiano), and has performed on the harpsichord in ensembles in both Auckland and Waikato. He holds an ATCL Diploma in Singing and has appeared as a baritone soloist with several ensembles in Auckland, and he also holds an LTCL Diploma in Cello Performance.