Pride of Auckland Chorus

Jan 2006 ~ Aug 2012
no longer active

Founder/Conductor - Brian Lee


Brian Lee, ConductorBrian Lee

Brian Lee, born in Busan South Korea (부산 싸나이) moved to New Zealand with his family in 1994. His passion for singing started at Rangitoto College where he met some key people who changed the direction of his musical life. Thanks to Mr. Steven Rowe and Mr. Siliva Gaugatao he started singing in choirs and joined a barbershop quartet.

In 2001 he was asked to help out with a young barbershop quartet from Mt. Roskill Grammar school via another awesome music teacher who has been helping and changing kid's live, Mei Fong. This quartet won the competition.
Following the success of the quartet, Mt Roskill Grammar school offered Brian a conductor's position for the 1st ever barbershop chorus of Mt. Roskill Grammar School. The first ever MRGS Chorus won the Auckland regional competition and was invited to compete at the national level but the group unfortunately couldn't afford to get to national convention during that first year.

So the 2nd year, determined to give the boys an opportunity to get to the national finals, Brian decided to do this with no payment, and donated everything he made from conducting back to the school which help MRGS to attend the national convention. They won the national champion Gold medal for 3 years consecutively after that.

MRGS Boys Chorus MRGS Boys ChorusMRGS Boys Chorus

The success of the MRGS chorus followed after the boys left school. So with some ex-members of MRGS chorus and the support of Mt Roskill Grammar School, a small a cappella group called 'The Darktones' was formed which later became the foundation of the Pride of Auckland Chorus.

This humble beginning did not just happen, there were some incredibly generous people who have made this whole thing possible.

Kevin & Wendy Gilligan are the reason we were able to stand on our two feet. Kevin encouraged Brian and supported him whole heartedly so Brian could achieve his vision.
They were responsible for setting up the trust and getting little grants here and there to support the group. Help the group get the risers and tour.
Without these amazing people supporting the group, it would never have got off the ground to become who they were.

Many members of the Pride of Auckland chorus were taught by Brian during their high school years. At the start most Thursdays they spent singing at Karaoke bars after a full on rehearsal. This hobby and weekly fun quickly became something much more when the word got around and the group started getting paid performances.

These little successes combined with the work Brian was doing at high schools, enabled the group to be free for everyone. Brian donated everything he earned at schools to the Pride of Auckland Chorus, paying for the rehearsal venues, purple ties and sheet music.

This was Brian's way of paying forward the kindness he received at high school by his teachers and other music coaches and offered the young students a place to hang out and make community while singing together. Brian taught in many many schools. Including his old school Rangitoto College, Long Bay College, Kristin, Mt. Roskill Grammer, Mt. Albert Grammer, Carmel College, ACG Parnell, Birkenhead College, Otahuhu College and many more, paying forward where possible.

Rangitoto CollegeRangitoto College Boys Chorus

Voxette, Long Bay College

It wasn't all fun, they entered the annual barbershop competition and placed in the top 3 every year they entered. They also travelled on a North Island tour giving workshops to high schools in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier and Rotorua.

With all the work Brian was doing around the high schools all over Auckland and Hamilton, the Pride of Auckland chorus became the ambassador of young barbershop singing in Auckland. They promoted singing attracting all sorts of ethnicities and backgrounds representative of Auckland's diversity.

The group regularly performed at numerous performances from small community level performances, jazz festivals, corporate gigs to full on professional shows in large arenas such as
Westfield Style Pasifika.

Brian also help the NZABS (New Zealand Association of Barbershop Singers) by organising the Auckland regioanl and sometime the national convertion for Young Men in Harmony and the NZABS National convention as a main cordinator.

In 2008, group decided to enter the 'Pan Pacific International Barbershop competition' which was held in Hawaii. Competing against groups from the Pacific side of the USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand. There were over 2,000 singers attending that year with many quartets and choruses. The Pride of Auckland chorus won every category they entered including the open overall section. And the Haka put Aotearoa in everyone's hearts.

POA Haka created by Kriss Rapana

After this success, next natural progression for Brian was to add the female singers. In 2010 some of the boys from the Pride of Auckland and few awesome female singers friends of Brian got together and formed a new group called 'Stellar Singers'.

In 2011 the Pride of Auckland chorus filmed the NZ religious program called 'Praise Be' with Stellar Singers.

The Pride of Auckland Chorus does not exist anymore and is written here as part of the journey.

In the 6 years of its existence, this incredible group is now a distant memory but its legacy still lives on. It was one of those groups that people laughed at in the beginning, but always walked out with the only standing ovation of the evening.

This small group was built by brotherhood beyond racial differences and demonstrated that we can all respect and function as a team, regardless of where we are from and when we do, we make incredible things happen. And for Brian this experience, the idealogy, the teaching pedagogy and the legacy that Brian developed became the pillar of Stellar Singers and of any group Brian had conducted and taught at.

Brian is not a full time musician, he spends most of his time on running his business (not music-related). Making music, conducting and teaching at high schools is and always will be a passionate hobby for him. He continues paying forward the generosity he received during his high schools years from his high school music teachers who helped to become who he is today. Thank you Mr. Rowe and Mr. Gaugatao!

Please see below for some of the Pride of Auckland Chorus's achievements and video footage.

Pride of Auckland Chorus highlights & achievements:

POA 07 2006 National Barbershop Auckland Convention 3rd place

2007 National Barbershop Dunedin Convention 2nd place

High School Competition Guest Performer

North Island Tour Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napia, Morrinsville, Rotorua, New Zealand with Barbara and Colin Smith.

Westfield Style Pasifika 07, Vector (Spark) Arena

New Zealand Breakers, Final pre-game entertainment

Hawaii, 2008 Pan Pacific Barbershop Competition.
1st Place, overall chorus champion
1st Place, small chorus winner

Tangata Paskfika TV performance, 2010

And many many more...

Highlight live Recordings of the Pride of Auckland Chorus

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
(David Wright)

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Sing Aotearoa 2009

Come on get happy

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2010

Drunken Sailor

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2010
Hamilton, MZ

Great Day

Pride of Auckland Chorus

TVNZ Praise Be 2010

Ave Maris Stellar

Pride of Auckland Chorus

TVNZ Praise Be 2010

My Girl

Pride of Auckland Chorus

North Island Tour 2011
Napier, NZ

Island Medley

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2010
Hamilton, NZ

Sesame Street

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2009
Auckland, NZ

Jackson Medley

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2010
Hamilton, NZ

The Lord's Prayer

Pride of Auckland Chorus

TVNZ Praise Be 2010

Ain't no sunshine

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2010
Hamilton, NZ

If I had my way
Who will buy

Pride of Auckland Chorus

NZABS Convention 2010
Hamilton, NZ

Collection of Hawaii performances

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Pan Pacific International
Barbershop Convention 2008
Representing New Zealand
1st place Champion Chorus

Hawaii, USA


Pride of Auckland Chorus

Harmony explosion show 2011
Hamilton, NZ

Smile (Charlie Chaplin)

Pride of Auckland Chorus

Young Singers in Harmony 2008
Auckland, NZ

Rudolph, the red nose reindeer

Pride of Auckland Chorus

TVNZ Tangata Pasifika 2010
Auckland, NZ

Ever wanted to join Stellar Singers?

Stellar Singers is a 'not for profit' community choir with absolute professionalism in heart.

So if you love singing and want to challenge yourself to be part of our quest to Europe, sign up.