Meet Supertonic, the Wellington choir looking to take Auckland's Armageddon by storm

Supertonic may be a familiar name to those who reside in Wellington - but the choir are now set to make a name for themselves outside the capital, thanks to appearing at Auckland's annual Armageddon exhibition this Labour weekend. 

The group, which comprises some 50 to 60 members, has already performed with The Muppets and Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie as part of The Jim Henson Retrospectacle in 2018. 

It now has its sights set on snaring a whole heap of fantasy fans through its live show 'High Score - Legendary Soundtracks in Concert'. 

It will feature music from games like Sid Meier's Civilisation and even the retro favourite Tetris theme, a ditty that bugged everyone who played or heard it. 

Ellie Stewart of the choir told Newshub the group has been trying to get to the event for a while now. 

"We'd been speaking to Bill who runs Armageddon and he wanted to bring a choir in. This was something we'd talked about, and we were trying to do it a year ago but ended up doing it this year.   

"We wanted to bring music that has relevance to the pop culture, things like fantasy adventure films, science fiction, but also video games which have amazing music and some anime as well.  

"There's music that has featured in films, like pop music that's featured in films or TV shows, and also there are original scores for these movies, TV shows and video games, which are just stunning." 

Stewart's been with the choir for nearly a decade now, having auditioned back in 2014. 

"Now it's quite competitive to get into the choir, especially if you're a soprano or an alto because there are a lot fewer men out there looking to join choirs than there are women. A choir in our age range is a little bit unusual.  You get young choirs and then you get older people in choirs, because people's lives change as they get into their thirties and they have families, so it does become more challenging to make the time to be part of it," she confessed. 

Practise is key for Supertonic - especially for their upcoming show. 

Supertonic's dress rehearsal took place in Wellington.
Supertonic's dress rehearsal took place in Wellington. Photo credit: Ellie Stewart

"The hardest thing is probably memorising it. If we're doing a more of a traditional choral concert where you're holding the music in front of you, that's easier. But we like to be able to connect with the audience a bit better and if we're not looking down at the music, it makes it a lot easier to sing out and to perform it with just a bit more energy. So, to do that it has to be memorised and that's challenging." 

But she said 'High Score' posed a few of its own problems. 

"A couple of the pieces from the Dungeons and Dragons Dark Alliance video game has made up Orcish language. So learning songs in real languages is one thing, but we are learning songs and languages that are completely made up. I suppose all language is made up, but these are not existing languages! 

"Maybe if you're learning Italian, you can connect that a little bit to other languages you might know or to even English, but memorising made up languages is a whole other challenge."  

However, she reckoned the audience of cosplayers, fans, and even visiting movie and TV stars will love it. 

Supertonic in full flow.
Supertonic in full flow. Photo credit: Supplied

"This will be a new experience. We've done some other performances that are a bit niche, but this is the first pop-culture set we've done. We were part of The Jim Henson Retrospectacle in 2018, when they needed the choir to sing alongside the NZSO and The Muppets. That was kind of incredible. That was a really niche thing rather than a classic situation for us.   

"I think because we're bringing the music to the people who really want to hear it, rather than going, 'Hey, we're presenting a jazz concert, who wants to come hear jazz music?' We're bringing to you what you want. So I think we'll get a good enthusiastic reaction because people will recognise things that they're at Armageddon to celebrate." 

The geek world is not just a passing fad for the Supertonic team, with all of them having dabbled in its realms after a fashion. 

"Personally, I'm really excited we're doing a song from the Lord of the Rings. We're doing some stuff from The Hobbit as well. I know a lot of the choir are fans of Lord of the Rings, and we don't talk about it all the time, but you ask people and they go, 'Oh yeah, I love it'. 

"Also, we've got some people who play video games like Final Fantasy, Civilization and Halo, and we also have a lot of people in the choir who love to play Dungeons and Dragons. I know loads of people are in groups playing D&D, and it's a really fun way to hang out with friends and to play, but also to create these fantastical stories. You get what you might get out of a video game, but you're getting to hang out with people as well, which is really important," she admitted. 

As for Stewart herself, don't be surprised if you bump into her at the expo. She confessed to Newshub she's got ambitions to meet one of her heroes at the event. 

"Kate Mulgrew, who's going to be part of the Star Trek panel - I don't know her from Star Trek, but I know her through Orange is The New Black, which is a great TV show. The prospect of seeing those performers in person is always exciting!" 

Adventures in Concert will take place at 3pm, Sunday 22 October in the Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland Showgrounds and is free for anyone attending the Armageddon Expo.