Community choirs take centre stage

Around 500 singers from western Sydney will be performing on Saturday, 1 November at the Sydney Opera House, as part of Opera Australia’s Community Choirs Project.

Community choirs take centre stage

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Opera Australia's multicultural singing project has grown from six amateur choirs at the 2012 inaugural event to 15 choirs this Saturday—and with twice the number of performers.

Nine different language groups, as well as English, will be represented—Spanish, Vietnamese, Italian, Arabic, French, Chinese, Portuguese, German and Korean.

The choirs have been rehearsing for three months but came together for the first time last Saturday.

Their next joint session before the sold-out gala event on Saturday night will be on Saturday morning at the Opera House, with a barbecue lunch in between.

In 2012, 70 per cent of the performers had never before been to the Sydney Opera House.

All the choirs are from Sydney’s outer Western suburbs, including Canterbury, Bankstown and Blacktown, half having been involved in the 2012 event and the other half being newbies.

The age range is 17 to 84 years old, and this year, a father and two daughters will be performing together. According to theCanterbury-Bankstown Express, George Nounnis, 81, will sing at the Opera House for the first time since performing there with a Greek choir 40 years ago. He will be joined by his daughters Sophie and Maria.

Two of the choirs are Simply Voices and Sydney Sonata Singers, both resident groups at Blacktown Arts Centre, which has been an Opera Australia partner since 2012.

Simply Voices—which began in 2007 as a project developed between Blacktown Council and TAFE to encourage people over the age of 50 to remain active in their community—has grown to more than 40 members and this will be their second outing with Opera Australia.

Opera Australia soloists include Shane Lowrencev (winner of the 2008 Australian Singing Competition's Opera Award), Diego Torre (multi-award winner including 3rd Place in Neue Stimmen 2007), Hyeseoung Kwon (winner of the 2002 Australian Singing Competition’s Opera Award and the MBS Young Performers Award) and Anna Dowsley, who is on the company’s young artists program.

The program includes:

  • ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot (Puccini)
  • ‘Brindisi’ from La Traviata (Verdi)
  • ‘The Toreador’s Song’ from Carmen (Bizet)
  • ‘Un voce pocco fa from The Barber of Seville(Rossini)
  • ‘Un bel di’ from Madama Butterfly (Puccini)
  • ‘Te Deum’ from Tosca (Puccini)
  • ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’ from Carousel(Rodgers & Hammerstein)

In 2013 Opera Australia's community choirs performed its gala event in Melbourne, withChoral Conductor Dr Jonathon Welch AM.

Some 400 singers in groups across Brimbank, Casey and Latrobe City as well as the Choir of Hope and Inspiration, and THECHO!R performed at Mazda’s Opera in the Bowl, accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

A spokesperson said it was likely Sydney and Melbourne would alternate with holding the combined choral event.

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