Gondwana Choirs, the nation’s highly respected choral training ground is in the thick of its National Choral School. With more than 300 young singers, composers and conductors hot-housing vocal repertoire over a fortnight, you could be forgiven for expecting unbridled cacophony. On the contrary, these emerging musicians will be formed into six choirs under the guidance of expert tutors and participate in workshops extending and challenging their musical knowledge and honing their performance skills. The NCS wraps up with the Festival of Summer Voices, a series of five concerts in Sydney, between January 18 and 21.
But summer is a time for fun and there are good times aplenty for the young singers aged 10-25, as Gondwana Choirs Artistic Director and founder Lyn Williams OAM says “more than half of the young singers, composers and conductors (are) returning to continue their learning and grow lasting friendships.”
Convening at the University of New South Wales, there are 5 sessions each day where the musicians learn both traditional and contemporary choral repertoire. The traditional fare includes Gondwana Choirs’ signature repertoire – music by Australian composers and contemporary classical music – music that is often complex and technically difficult.
This year, the singers have the added privilege of working with expert performers and multiple ARIA Award winner, a capella ensemble The Idea of North, (TION) who are Artists in Residence at the NCS. TION also celebrates over two decades of music-making which has included an annual concert series, live performances in the cities and regions, international tours and an impressive discography. No doubt they will have much to teach their young charges not just about making music, but about the business and the realities of life as a professional ensemble singer. TION will work intensively with each ensemble, hosting A Cappella Academy workshops as well as giving their own performance during the Festival.
It’s an opportunity as well, for the singers to work with other luminaries like Antony Pitts, Artistic Director of the Song Company, composer and conductor Paul Stanhope from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, conductor and educator Carl Crossin from the University of Adelaide, conductor and Musical Director of VOX, Elizabeth Scott and composer, conductor, pianist and Gondwana alumna Sally Whitwell. Other alumni include singer/songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke, budding opera star Alexandra Oomens, soprano Jane Sheldon and composer Joseph Twist.
Alongside the traditional Gondwana repertoire, each of the six choirs will be working with TION on a century of contemporary a capella repertoire, from Sweet Georgia Brown to the Beatles, ABBA and Queen, the Spice Girls versus Boyz II Men, Snow Patrol and Pitch Perfect!
Shortly after the NCS closes its doors for 2017, the singers of the Gondwana Chorale take off on a 7-concert tour of the USA from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Washington DC (the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts), Philadelphia, New York (Trinity Church, Wall Street), Boston and Cambridge, MA. Undoubtedly the tour will build a treasure-trove of memories and experiences that will last the young singers a lifetime.
Lyn Williams expresses a justifiable hint of parental joy when she observes “We are extremely proud to celebrate two decades of Gondwana National Choral School, having provided world-class choral training and personal and career development to more than 3,000 young people since its inception in 1997.”
Festival of Summer Voices Opening Gala
Hear the Gondwana Choirs in full flight in this concert that will showcase the talents of choristers, conductors and composers.
Wednesday 18 January 2017 at 7pm/ Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW
The Idea of North
A capella ensemble The Idea Of North, Resident Artists at Gondwana National Choral School 2017 perform wth their ARIA Award winning sound and style across many musical genres.
Friday 20 January 2017 at 7pm/ Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW
A Cappella Academy
The young choristers perform the a capella music that they have learned with resident artists The Idea of North.
Saturday 21 January 2017 at 3pm and 6.30pm/Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Gondwana Chorale in Recital
Gondwana Chorale leaves for an extensive tour of the USA directly after National Choral School. This is an aopportunity to preview what this national youth choir will perform on tour.
Saturday 21 January 2017 at 5.15pm/ Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music