Counsel in Concert is based at Crown Law and has been running since 2009, meaning the choir turns ten years old in 2019. The choir and orchestra are comprised of lawyers and legal staff from throughout the Wellington region, augmented by members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Wellington.
Each year Counsel in Concert performs a large scale charity concert raising funds for the Child Cancer Foundation. Over 60 lawyers are involved in the event. This year the choir will also be joined for the first time by the judges' choir, "Just Voices".
Counsel in Concert's theme this year is all New Zealand songs. The wide-ranging programme includes favourite waiata, Lilburn's "Prodigal Country", some reggae, classic hits by Crowded House, Dave Dobbyn, Split Enz, Don McGlashan and more. The programme will be conducted by Brent Stewart.
In addition to the choir, Counsel in Concert regularly features soloists from the legal profession. This year’s featured soloist is the Honourable Justice Joe Williams from the Supreme Court. Justice Williams, whose tribal affiliations are Ngāti Pūkenga and Te Arawa (Waitaha, Tapuika), also has another claim to fame—a hit song from the 1980s from when he was a Kiwi music legend. His reggae band Aotearoa made headlines and NZ Music Charts in 1985 with the single Maranga Ake Ai—a song calling for Māori youth to take pride in their identity. He was lead singer for the band while he was a law student. He continued to perform occasionally when chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal, and later a High Court Judge.
The soloists also include jazz singer Stephanie Bishop. Stephanie combines a busy legal practice as a Crown prosecutor and partner at Luke Cunningham Clere with an extensive background performing nationally and in the UK as a jazz and blues vocalist.
The organisers are very grateful to the sponsors of the event: Simpson Grierson, Tripe Matthews Feist, Stout Street Chambers, Lane Neave, Greg Kelly Law, Rachael Dewar Law, New Zealand Law Society, Fyfe & Doherty, Lambton Chambers Barristers, Duncan Cotterill, WCM Legal and Extra Law.
Thank you also to St Andrew’s on the Terrace, the National Library of New Zealand, the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust and Orchestra Wellington. The generosity of the sponsors and other supporters means that all donations from the concerts go to the Child Cancer Foundation.