Western District Choral Festival 2018: Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The Space, Geelong Grammar School

Festival hosts – The Geelong Chorale

Today’s festival was a celebration of song and the joy that people obtain from singing together in groups.  Fourteen choirs participated in an afternoon of fine music making and friendship.  It was a chance for choirs to perform at their best.  They did not disappoint.

The program began with the host choir, The Geelong Chorale, and was introduced by John Stubbings OAM, who acted as MC throughout the afternoon.

The music ranged from a 16th century madrigal, to folk songs from around the world, through popular songs, songs from musical theatre and old favourites.  Even opera had its place, with a delightful rendition of ‘Painless Opera’ by Phyllis Wolfe-White by the Geelong Youth Choir.  The smallest group was 8 voices (The Geelong Youth Chamber Choir), the largest around 40 voices (The Geelong Chorale).  There were youth choirs, mixed choirs, a female choir (Welsh Ladies Choir), and a male choir (International Harvester Choir).  The youngest singers were of primary school age, and the oldest at least 90.

As Geelong is at the eastern end of the WDCF region, many choirs came from the Geelong area.  The two groups from further afield, Colac Chorale and Apollo Bay Community Choir were warmly welcomed and greatly enhanced the afternoon’s singing.

The afternoon ended with all singers merging onto the stage for a massed choir performance of “Africa”, conducted by Jodie Townsend, Director of Music at Geelong Grammar School.

It is interesting to note that The International Harvester Male Chorus (formed in 1943) may be the oldest continuously performing choir in Australia in its current form.  Raise the Bar, the adult section of The Geelong Youth Choir will be the featured choir for a forthcoming performance of “The Events” at GPAC.  Geelong Harmony Chorus are fresh from a very successful Sweet Adelines Convention in Hobart, where they were placed fourth overall, and third in their section.

At the close of the Festival, Frank Sykes, Vice-President of The Geelong Chorale, handed over the Festival to The Merri Singers from Warrnambool who will host the festival in 2019.

Participating Choirs:  The Geelong Chorale, Colac Chorale, Wondrous Merry, Apollo Bay Community Choir, Geelong Youth Choir, Raise the Bar Vocal Group, Geelong Harmony Chorus, Welsh Ladies Choir, International Harvester Choir, Sing Australia, Geelong, Vox Box, U3A Geelong Choir, Geelong College Community Choir, The Choir of Geelong Grammar School.

Thanks to The Geelong Chorale, especially their hard working committee, and secretary Angela West, Geelong Grammar School and Jodie Townsend, for accommodating the festival in the excellent performing arts space and all participating choirs and their conductors and accompanists.  Thanks also to City of Greater Geelong for their support.

Download a copy of the Western District Choral Festival 2018 program here.



Sneak Peek – Geelong Harmony Chorus: Monday, May 7th, 2018

Western Heights Uniting Church

Once again this accomplished women’s barbershop choir presented a preview of their items for the annual Sweet Adeline’s Convention and Regional Competition.  This year’s  event is to be held in Hobart from 17-20 May.  As usual there was a packed house of followers, families and other music lovers.

Geelong Harmony is conducted by Alex Morris, a multi-talented musical dynamo, who introduced the choir under ‘competition conditions’ as if he were MC at the convention.

From the appearance of the first singers this group showed their professionalism, ascending the choir risers with relaxed precision.  The music began with one note – tuning from an electronic A, a la orchestra!  Then the chorus launched into the first of their two competition pieces At Last My Love has come Along and Looking at the World Through Rose Coloured GlassesThe choir not only sounds wonderful, but is also a visual treat.  All eyes focus (adoringly) on musical director Alex, with gestures facial expressions reflecting the emotional impact of the music.  The blend is impeccable, harmony precise, and diction clear.  The ebb and flow of tempo in the first song was faultless.  Dynamics ranged from very soft to full fortissimo, without any loss of vocal tone.  However, it’s the overwhelming joy in singing and sense of togetherness and warmth that is the overriding impression of this fine group.

At the start of Rose Coloured Glasses, two singers wooed Alex with bouquets of spangled red roses.  By the end of the piece, every singer sported either a large sparkly red rosette or was holding a shimmering red bloom.  Not to be outdone, Alex Morris now sported a rose-emblazoned waist coat!

After thunderous applause, and a pause for a publicity photo and raffle draw, the concert resumed with quartets.  Three Geelong Harmony quartets will be competing at Hobart this year.  Two were represented in the Sneak Peek concert, as well as a mixed quartet – giving Alex Morris the chance to show off his vocal abilities as lead.  This quartet, called Around the Blend, comprises two members of Geelong Harmony, Alex, and the husband of one of the chorus – and had come second in a barbershop competition last year.  They presented If Ever I Would Leave You (from Camelot), and I Got Rhythm

Only two of the women’s quartets were available to perform at Sneak Peek.  The first was Push Play who sang Are You Lonesome Tonight and Back in the Old Routine with precision and lots of humour – and a surprise tap dance at the end from one talented member.  This was followed by Something Else, who, attired in long black frocks and sporting identical ‘diamond’ necklaces, sang Who’s Fifty Now – a riotous song with lots of theatrical interplay.  The second piece I Won’t Care… if You Love Me showed a fine togetherness and some beautiful singing from the top voice – with an exquisitely controlled extended long high note in the final chord.

Geelong Harmony then returned to the stage to repeat their contest songs, and also presented some other items from their repertoire – Blue Indigo, Constant Cravings (the only diction glitch occurred here – at least one audience member heard ‘constant gravy’), and Under the Southern Skies.  Finally, Alex Morris invited all past and present members of Geelong Harmony Chorus to join the competition group to sing one of the group’s signature pieces How We Sang Tonight.  It was a joyful night of fine music-making.

We wish Geelong Harmony Chorus well for their singing in Hobart.  We know that, whatever the outcome of the competition, all the singers will have a wonderful time, with lots of music, friendship and laughter.

Keep watching the Choral Grapevine and Geelong Harmony’s Facebook page to hear news from Hobart and see lots more photos.

Past and present members of Geelong Harmony present “How We Sang Today’

Festival Gala opening Concert

Windfire Festival celebrates ten years

Congratulations to Music at the Basilica, Musical Director, Frank De Rosso and the Music at the Basilica management committee.

This opening concert is performed by Orchestra Geelong and a massed choir from many Geelong choirs, as well as Geelong Grammar School Choir and The Geelong Youth Choir, and soprano soloists Lee Abrahmsen and Sally Wilson.

As well as individual tickets there are Festival Passes available:

GOLD PASS:  This will give you entry to all seven concerts and both workshops for $170 Full/$165 Concession

SILVER PASS:  This will give you entry to any 4 concerts of your choice for $90 Full/$85 Concession

Individual tickets:  Gala Opening Concert – $35/$30, other concerts $25, Workshops – $10.  Children are free to all events.

Festival Passes are available from www.trybooking.com/TORI

For more information visit https://musicatthebasilica.org.au/music-festival/

For the Joy of Singing the Classics: Opera Choruses

Around 50 singers enjoyed an afternoon singing the classics under the able direction of Daryl Barclay with the help of Hugh Davidson, accompanist.

The music was challenging – with all parts needing to divide (in one case, within two choirs).  With opera, the chorus play many roles.  This afternoon the chorus were asked to play peasants, matadors (and their molls), pilgrims, country bumpkins and courtiers.

With many choruses sprinting along at allegro, even English words were a challenge.  However, undaunted, the group attempted Italian for choruses of Verdi, but reneged on trying Russian for Tchaikovsky.

Thanks to Daryl and Hugh for an afternoon of enjoyable singing.  Thanks also to Anne Pilgrim, who devised the concept of Singing the Classics as a chance for singers to attempt repertoire that is outside of their choirs’ usual scope.  The series is sponsored by The Geelong Chorale.

The second For the Joy of Singing the Classics for 2018 will be on June 10th, when Allister Cox (director of The Geelong Chorale and a G & S veteral), will conduct singers in an afternoon of choruses from Gilbert and Sullivan light operas.

Geelong Symphony Orchestra Chorus: The Mighty 9th – Preliminary Workshop


7.30pm, Saturday, 27th October, 2018- The Geelong Symphony Orchestra and GSO Chorus, conducted by Fabian Russell.

Almost 80 singers attended the familiarisation workshop for the GSO Chorus on Sunday, March 4th.  The rehearsal was directed by Peter Tregear, Chorus Master for the GSO Chorus.

There were singers from many different choirs – from Geelong, Drysdale, Colac, Winchelsea, Anglesea, Melbourne, Gisborne and other choirs far and wide.

To do the mighty 9th justice, a large choir is needed.  While the duration of the fourth movement (which includes choir and soloists) is relatively short, the intensity of singing needed is great.  A full range of dynamics is required.

If you would like to register as a singer, please fill out the registration form.