Sunday, July 7th, 2pm, St Lukes Church Barrabool Road, Highton

If you’re anywhere nearby, come along and enjoy yourself singing the choruses from Handel’s most popular choral work.

For bookings contact Anne Pilgrim

Cost $15 – includes music hire and afternoon tea.

And if Geelong is too far away…  perhaps Port Fairy isn’t. 

The 38th Annual Port Fairy Messiah will be at St John’s Anglican Church Port Fairy on Saturday December 28th at 7.30pm.  Jeanette Hajncl will conduct the performance with orchestra, choir and professional soloists.  Come along and sing.  Bring your own score, or borrow one on the day.

This is very popular with holiday makers – especially those who sing in choirs.

Messiah trivia

Should one stand for the Hallelujia Chorus?

This tradition honours an story about the London premiere.  It is said that the king (George II) stood when the chorus began.  This prompted the audience to stand, as it was close to treason to stay seated if the monarch were standing.   However, there is no evidence that this is so, and, indeed, it is doubtful whether the king was even in attendance.

So, please yourself.  (As it’s at the end of a long second part, it may be an opportune time to stretch the legs.)

Messiah is not ‘set in concrete’. 

In Handel’s time there were re-writings for each of the first 13 performances, changing solos to suit the singers, and instrumentation to suit the available forces.  Handel wrote new solos for various performances to suit his soloists.  Mozart re-orchestrated the work for much larger ensemble, this edition becoming the standard for many years.  It is known that most of the solos were sung by various voices in Handel’s time.  Bernstein, in a performance in Carnegie Hall, re-ordered the sections.

Speedy composition

Without the aid of any of today’s technical short-cuts, and by daylight or lamp-light, Handel wrote the initial version in around 24 days.  There are 259 pages in this score!

Why an ‘out of town’ debut?

Operas were losing their charm with London audiences, so Handel tried his luck with  oratorio.  The first of these was Esther, a private commission.  In 1740 and 42 Handel did a season in Dublin at the request of the Duke of Devonshire. While Messiah  was not part of this series, the work received its initial performance on April 12th, 1842,  a charity performance, to an audience of 700 people.  The choir was 32 men and boys, with some of the solo work taken by the men of this group, as well as three female soloists.  The orchestra was strings, trumpets and timpani.

The first London performance was at Covent Garden on 23rd March, 1743.

Baroque Bonanza – The Ballarat Choral Society

Welcome to our next exciting adventure in music

Ballarat Chamber Opera presents a sumptuous Baroque Bonanza with the participation of Ballarat Choral Society, renowned organist Calvin Bowman and a selection of outstanding soloists.

The program includes works by JS Bach, CPE Bach and Pachelbel, and there is a community workshop too!

Performance: Saturday 3 August, 3pm at the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ the King
Conductor: Helen Duggan
Soloists: Alison Ho, Lyndal Allen, Christine Heald, Timothy Reynolds, Ollie Mann (some tbc)
Organist: Calvin Bowman

Community Workshop: Saturday 3 August, 10.30am to 11.30am – Calvin Bowman, Rick Chew (Federation University) and Christine Heald (Ballarat Chamber Opera) will teach participants Bach’s final chorale so they can participate in the afternoon’s performance.

Please mark this very special day in your calendar, and stay tuned for details on how to book.

Meanwhile, if you’re a singer…

Invitation to participate in this rare event

We’d love for you to perform the entire program with us, and we’re actively recruiting singers for Ballarat Choral Society – whether that’s welcoming back familiar faces, or welcoming brand new-to-us people.

If that’s you, fantastic! If not, please pass this invitation on to anyone whom you think might be interested.

Below you’ll find all the details – program, rehearsal material, dates and so on. Do please consider joining us, as it promises to be a most exciting and rewarding experience.

Magnificat – CPE Bach
Cantata 78 – JS Bach
Magnificat – Pachelbel

BCS Rehearsals
Every Wednesday night 7.45-10pm with a short tea break, at Ebenezer Hall (behind Ebenezer Church, 212 Armstrong Street South, Ballarat). If you’re new, simply turn up a few minutes early and we’ll organise music for you.

Joint rehearsals
In addition to regular BCS rehearsals, please note the following joint rehearsals, to be held at Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ the King (49 Lydiard St South, Ballarat):
20 July – possible joint rehearsal, to be confirmed
27 July – joint rehearsal 2-4pm (time tbc)
3 August – final joint rehearsal 12.30-2.30pm

Rehearsal Resources
Sheet music is provided for you to use and take home (if we have hired music, you’ll need to return it at the end otherwise you get to keep it – please check with our Music Librarian Deirdre Stewart when you pick yours up on arrival).

You will find audio practice tracks and pronunciation guides by clicking here. There are also rehearsal CDs available at practice, to support learning the music.

BCS subscriptions cover the cost of sheet music, rehearsal venue hire, as well as the excellent training and support of our Musical Director Helen Duggan, who is the concert conductor. Subs for this program are $60, and there is a one-off $10 joining fee for new members.

But we don’t expect you to pay at the door before coming in!

You’re welcome to come along to the rehearsal and see what you think, before making any commitments.

For more information contact The Ballarat Choral Society.

High Tea with Geelong Harmony

Sunday, May 5th, Vines Road Community Centre

Life on a high note for 25 fabulous years

“We came for the music and stayed for the friendship”

Plan an event and invite your friends and family.  Expect a hundred or so guests for a  celebratory afternoon tea, with a Sneak Peek at your competition items.  Find you have more friends than you realise – in fact, over 100 more.  CELEBRATE!

Geelong Harmony’s celebration of their achievement – 25 years of fine singing and friendship was an occasion of much joy, laughter, friends made and remade and excitement.

Titled “Hi-ho Silver Jubilee”* this event sparkled and rang with the beat of not hooves, but music-making.  Guests entered through an arch of balloons into a richly decorated room, to be offered the promised tea and party food.  The noise level grew as old friends met and former singers reminisced about their time with the group.  The age level was diverse, with quite a number of original choir members being present, as well as children (and perhaps grandchildren) of current members.

The current chorus members had worked hard, planning the event over many months, decorating the hall, designing the commemorative brochure, organising raffles, anniversary merchandise and a silent auction, baking and arranging, and, of course, providing the essential woman-power to run the event.  “Another cup of tea?  Certainly.”  “Can I interest you in some raffle tickets?”  “May I collect your plates?”

After first cuppas had been consumed and the group hushed from chatter, announcements were made before the Geelong Harmony made their entrance and moved with their usual professional aplomb onto the risers.  No fixed smiles here.  They beamed with excitement and the verve to showcase their new pieces, already performance-ready and sparkling (with not a spangle in sight).  Alex Morris’s charismatic leadership has Geelong Harmony working as one to produce harmony with razzamatazz.

Geelong Harmony barbershop wouldn’t be the same without barbershop quartets.  Guests were treated to a taste of these.  Humour abounded as each group mixed hi-jinks with fine harmony. 

There was time for more chatting, tea and food, and guests were invited to bid in the silent auction and purchase jubilee wine and merchandise.  There was time to look at the array of costumes Geelong Harmony have worn over their 25 years of performing. For the latest version, you’ll need to wait until after this year’s National Convention, in Hobart from 13-16th May.  (Only those at yesterday’s celebration had an advance look, and we’re not talking!)

Then it was time to cut the cake – with Geelong Harmony’s musical directors past and present who could attend, being chosen for the task – Joan Humphrey (2005-2007) Lucy Jones (2007-2011) and Alex Morris (2012 – present).

After a hasty costume change for chorus members, the audience were treated once again to a Sneak Peek of this year’s competition pieces, along with several other songs from the repertoire.

Well done and thank you for a wonderful afternoon of entertainment and friendship.  Thanks to all Harmony members who worked so hard to make high tea with Geelong Harmony such a success.

*Some of us are old enough to remember the 1950s cinema serial The Lone Rangerwho had ‘a mighty horse with the speed of light…”





St John Passion – Clunes Sunday, May 5th


This performance is highly recommended, as those who attended the recent performances in Hamilton and Melbourne will agree.

If you’re anywhere near Clunes, ACC presents its final performance of Bach’s St John Passion on Sunday, May 5th, at 3.00pm at St Paul’s Church.

This superb chamber choir, accompanied by Melbourne Baroque Orchestra playing baroque instruments, is conducted by Douglas Lawrence,  The soloists, headed by tenor Timothy Reynolds who is possibly the finest Bach Evangelist in Australia, are excellent.  Timothy also sings the tenor arias.  Five of the soloists came from the choir itself.  Elizabeth Anderson’s pure alto, and well shaped phrasing is perfect for Bach’s expressive and poignant music.  Elspeth Bawden’s crystal clear soprano soars exquisitely in the soprano arias.  Amelia Jones sings Ancilla, Tanum Shipp sings Servus and Kieran Macfarlane sings Petrus.  The other soloists are Jerzy Kozlowski, who sings Jesus with a rich bass, contrasting with Oliver Mann’s more bariitone timbre singing Pilatus and as bass soloist,

This is an extremely moving performance, which gained a standing ovation at the Melbourne performance last Sunday.

Warrnambool Organ Festival Chorus: Invitation to singers

The Warrnambool Organ Festival is seeking choristers for its upcoming choral project, a highlight of the 2019 Warrnambool Organ Festival. We have choristers from Warrnambool, Hamilton and Port Fairy currently in the choir, and we are hoping that more people throughout the region would like to get involved.

We are performing two fantastic sacred choral works this year – Dvorak’s Mass in D and Bruckner’s Te Deum, accompanied by organist Craig Doherty and conducted by Patrick Burns. Patrick, who works in a fellowship position conducting the Australian Ballet, will be running several rehearsals and ‘choral boot camps’ in preparation for the performance- a fantastic opportunity for skills development for local singers and  of fun! The choir will also be collaborating with four fantastic operatic soloists for the performance- soprano Louise Keast, alto Sally-Anne Russell, tenor Douglas Kelly and baritone Michael Lampard.

Project Details:

Weekly rehearsals at the Warrnambool Uniting Church 115 Koroit St, Warrnambool

Warrnambool Organ Festival performance Saturday 24 August.

Enquiries and rehearsal schedule/information contact Louise Keast (Warrnambool organ Festival Director) on 0481 317 692.