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Wandering Dulcet pick unique setting for Fringe performance

An important consideration for any artist is space, says Raglan singer Karin Bettley.

“Where is my stuff going to fit? … I’ve got to put it somewhere where people will appreciate it.” A venue can make or break a performance or artwork.

And for Karin, who sings in the Raglan choir Wandering Dulcet, which is playing at the Hamilton Fringe Festival next week, her “stuff” is original song, without instruments, unplugged and “quite intimate”. Not the type of music she would want to play in – or which would suit – a pub or a rowdy gig.

Nope! Karin reckons on playing in car park, instead.

“Yes, it is in a car park,” laughs Karin, regarding their Hamilton Fringe Festival performance. She sings in the choir with Charlotte Pearsall, Laura Wells, Eliza Kearvell and Anne Windust, all Raglan women.

“I was asking ‘where is it going to sound really good?’

“I remember seeing this clip on Facebook of some men singing a hymn in a train station. You could really hear the resonance of the voices …

“I said (to the festival organisers) I want a car park or a train station.”

And they got her the Celebrating Age car park.

“I went and had a look at it and it’s a great space.”

Karin, who has been a midwife for nine years but is currently being mum to four-month old Frida, says the Fringe Festival is such a cool festival because it gives a supportive and encouraging environment to do almost anything you want.

“It’s experimental and not judgmental, but also attracts a high standard of work.”

She says she cannot speak highly enough of the organisers of the Hamilton Fringe Festival, which is supported by Hamilton City Council, the Creative Communities Scheme, Trust Waikato and Wel Energy Trust.

“They are really awesome and so supportive of all the artists. Normally it’s quite a slog” to get your work out there and appreciated, “but it’s not about money, there is no commercialism”.

“These are people who are just making stuff in their backyards or lounge. It’s not a job but a love. It’s not about the money.”

Wandering Dulcet is a spin-off of a world music choir that was set up in Raglan about two years ago.

“It sort of fizzled out because the choir leader was from Hamilton and couldn’t keep it up.

“There were just us five left. We decided to do our own originals.”

All the women in Wandering Dulcet are young mums.

“We are a bunch of really lovely women who get together to sing.

“It’s a bit like a support group …  but (stuff) talking, let’s sing,” Karin laughs.

She says she uses music to keep well, especially since her work as a midwife can be quite stressful, as is being a mum with young children.

“When you are singing in harmony, you become greater then yourself, you play a role. You realise: I don’t have to sound like a rock star, or sound amazing, all I have to do is hold this note.”

Karin, who was in duo Sleepy Wolf, has been writing the songs for the car-park performance in the past six months. Influences include jazz, folk, old sea songs, “sea shanties”, and Appalachian music, and “it’s quite romantic.

“It’s still in its experimental stage, it’s a totally weird space for us and it’s unplugged.

“People are going to come and get what they get. Some of it is going to be great; some will change over time.

“It’s really exciting.”

Inger Vos

*Wandering Dulcet plays at the Celebrating Age car park, 30 Victoria St, Hamilton, March 12. Performance starts at 8.30am. Don’t be late. Cost is $10 or $5 concession. 

The Old School Arts Centre is also playing host to an exceptional family puppet show, Rumpelstiltskin, on Friday, March 4, 7pm, as a trial for Fringe artists to tour the Waikato.

The Hamilton Fringe Festival runs March 3-13, with more than 40 events in 15 venues around the city.

This year’s programme includes dance, puppetry, street-theatre, glassmaking, pet photography and more music than before.

See the entire programme at

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