This week, over 600 students from the length and breadth of New South Wales are busy with preparations for In Concert, an initiative of the Arts Unit of the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities. When they gather in Sydney next week, several ensembles, both large and small will perform choral, orchestral and jazz repertoire from Vivaldi (excerpts from the Gloria), Bartok, Wagner and Sondheim.
The students of the Combined Secondary Schools Choir will sing in a massed choir of 450; they will perform with the 80 strong New South Wales Public Schools Symphony Orchestra, and have the opportunity of working with the nation’s leading music educator and conductor, Richard Gill, OAM. As well there will be smaller ensembles like 60 musicians of the New South Wales Public Schools Wind Ensemble, and the 18 who make up the New South Wales Public Schools Jazz Orchestra.
Richard Gill’s experience in opera, musical theatre and vocal and choral training is unparallelled and his work in developing young musicians and creating opportunities for them is recognised worldwide. He is Music Director of Victorian Opera and Artistic Director of the Education Program for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He has been Artistic Director of OzOpera, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Adviser for the Musica Viva in Schools program. Yet, he continues to be excited by the prospect of working directly with secondary students, an idea which he finds “irresistible”. He continues “I have never lost interest in working with students, especially those that sing! When secondary students sing, it’s very special!”
The students are drawn from 67 schools from Cobar to Caringbah. The event and its preparation is means for the Arts Unit to take music to schools across the state. Conductor Elizabeth Scott will prepare the choirs in Sydney, before they meet with Richard Gill. They will have already have learnt and rehearsed the music within their schools. She says ” It’s always exciting for them and very different to what they do in regular school time – to sing large scale choral works with 450 people, an orchestra and to work with Richard Gill and learn repertoire that is more challenging. I love working with massed choirs; I love seeing kids from all walks from life and a varity of levels of experience and ability work alongside each other. It’s so rewarding to see the students tackle something beyond their normal limits and see them rise to the occasion”.
The students generally stay in Sydney for two nights. In the choir, the students are mixed, so there are opportunities for meeting new people and to share and compare experiences.
The engaging and entertaining Richard Gill will present a pre-concert talk, and so the last word is best left to John Carmody of The Sun Herald: “Perhaps it’s just as well that Leonard Bernstein is dead. Otherwise he’d probably have to relinquish his great reputation as a musical educator – or at least share it with Sydney’s Richard Gill.”
Shamistha de Soysa for Sounds Like Sydney
Tickets: Call (02) 8256 2222 or visit www.cityrecitalhall.com. Booking fees may apply.
Adults $35; Concession $28; School groups $12 per student; Teachers 1 p/10 students free, under 10 students $15.00